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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, capping 3.7% weekly decline, as rising bond yields crimp equity gains

Friday 9th February 2018

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New Zealand shares fell, rounding out a 3.7 percent weekly decline as investors adjust to increased volatility and rising global bond yields that are undermining equity markets that have been at record highs. SkyCity Entertainment Group gained after kicking off earnings season and Scales Corp fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 84.77 points, or 1 percent, to 8,092.37. Within the index, 40 stocks declined, seven gained, and three were unchanged. Turnover was $143 million. 

Stocks across Asia followed Wall Street lower for another day as volatility remerged in what's been a whippy week of trading. China's Shanghai Composite was down 4.1 percent in afternoon trading, while Japan's Topix fell 2.2 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.8 percent. 

"People are coming around to this point that the jitters that we're experiencing are for a good reason and that is growth in the world is looking better and therefore interest rates have the possibility of rising," said Stu Williams, head of equities at Nikko Asset Management in Auckland. "We're just trying to figure out how it works with countries like the US who are accelerating a bit faster and will most likely have shorter-term rates rise versus New Zealand and Australia where it's not clear shorter term rates need to rise in this calendar year." 

Fruit exporter Scales led the benchmark index lower, falling 2.8 percent to $4.48, followed by honey products maker Comvita down 2.8 percent to $8.75 and telecommunications network operator Chorus which declined 2.6 percent to $3.825. Global logistics group Mainfreight fell 2.5 percent. 

SkyCity rose 0.5 percent to $4.05 after reporting a 12 percent gain in first-half profit on a recovery in its international business and said it was on track to deliver modest annual growth, kicking off corporate earnings season. 

Nikko's Williams said the casino operator was largely tapped into the domestic market and said most companies reporting don't have a close connection to global markets and will be "a bit more of a New Zealand story".

Among companies reporting on Monday, Contact Energy fell 0.4 percent to $5.34 and Property For Industry gained 0.6 percent to $1.64. 

Outdoor equipment chain Kathmandu Holdings gained 1.3 percent to $2.35, the biggest increase on the day. 

Fletcher Building shares were still halted at $7.77 ahead of a briefing on Monday when the construction company will update investors on further writedowns to major projects that will breach its lending covenants. Morningstar says it would be positive for Fletcher to sell the construction division, which the analyst values at $550 million, although it probably has to be at a discount. 

Outside the benchmark index, Augusta Capital fell 1.9 percent to $1.04 after buying the management contract for real estate investor NPT, subject to shareholder approval. NPT fell 0.8 percent to 59.5 cents. 

(BusinessDesk)

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