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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares drift after US stocks eased back overnight

Tuesday 15th January 2019

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New Zealand shares drifted in quiet trading after US stocks ended in the red. Spark slid while A2 Milk helped shore up the index. 

The S&P/NZX 50 index fell 3.97 points, or 0.04 percent, to 8,964.58. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, eight were unchanged and 19 lifted. Turnover was $121.4 million. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.36 percent while the S&P 500 lost 0.53 percent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.94 percent after weak trade data from China rekindled concerns about a global slowdown.

The lead from offshore weighed on Spark, which saw 7 million shares change hands versus an average daily volume of 3.15 million over the past three months. Spark ended 1.7 percent lower at $4.07.  

"It is a large company and it gets a lot of international attention. It can be driven by other factors apart from the retail market," said Forsyth Barr investment adviser Grant Batchelor.

He noted, however, volumes were generally very light across the market.  

"That is the market at this time of this year. Most of the big players are away," he said. 

A2 Milk helped keep the index from falling any further, adding 2.6 percent to $11.65. It was the third most heavily traded stock, with 1.85 million shares changing hands, up from an average daily volume of 1.3 million in the past three months.  

Synlait Milk fell 0.1 percent to $9.35, likely on some light profit-taking given a recent strong run after its licence to continue importing to China was renewed. Trading in Synlait, however, was tepid. 

Overall, "people are happy with that, they are happy with the milk formula story," said Batchelor. 

Trade Me was the second most heavily traded stock, dipping 0.2 percent to $6.33 with 2.98 million shares trading, more than three times the normal average volumes of the past three months. 

Batchelor noted the property companies continue to fare well given that the central bank has continued to affirm that rates will stay low or could even be cut. "They have a lot of borrowing out there and if their borrowing costs remain low, that's great." 

Goodman Property added 0.6 percent to $1.59 while Precinct Property added 0.3 percent to $1.4750.  Goodman Property, Precinct Property and Kiwi Property saw fairly heavy trading, with more than 1 million shares trading in each. Kiwi Property ended down 0.4 percent at $1.3750. 

Kathmandu continued to recover, adding 3.1 percent to $2.35. However, only 20,000 shares traded, around 10 percent of daily average volumes over the past 90 days. 

(BusinessDesk)

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