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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain; Auckland Airport edges toward record, Trade Me, Chorus rise

Monday 4th July 2016

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New Zealand shares rose, pushing the S&P/NZX 50 Index to its highest level in almost a month, as investors cheered growth in the number of airlines using Auckland International Airport and the outlook for low interest rates helped lift companies including Trade Me Group, Chorus and Mighty River Power.

The NZX 50 gained 14.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,940.95. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 18 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was about $80 million as a typically low-volume Monday was exacerbated by the looming US Independence Day holiday.

The benchmark index has gained each day since June 24 (NZ time) when it fell as the results of the UK's Brexit referendum were released. Since then, British politicians have signalled they are in no rush to formally begin the process of leaving the European Union. At the same time, there has been little sign that central banks want to rush to raise interest rates, keeping the demand for equity yields intact.

Auckland Airport, the nation's busiest gateway, rose 1.4 percent to $6.745. The airport last week welcomed daily flights between Los Angeles and Auckland by American Airlines, which became the 23rd international airline to fly to the city. The new service will add 165,000 seats a year between New Zealand and the US. United Airlines' first flight between San Francisco and Auckland landed in New Zealand on Sunday morning, marking a return to the country for the airline after thirteen years. The airport's stock reached a record $6.895 on March 8.

"Auckland Airport is showing some very solid gains," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "International airlines are coming into the Auckland market creating more competition. It's very good for Auckland Airport."

Air New Zealand, the national carrier, rose about 1 percent to $2.11.

Kathmandu, the outdoor clothing retailer, rose 0.6 percent to $1.60. The shares have soared about 20 percent since June 30, when the company raised its forecast for annual earnings, saying margins were improving on new products, better management of promotional activity and cost savings. The New Zealand Superannuation fund's stake in Kathmandu has fallen below 5% as Mint Asset Management used the share price rise on June 30 to sell some holdings, documents published to the NZX today showed. 

Trade Me Group, the auction website, rose 3.9 percent to $4.75.

Chorus, the telecommunications network company, rose 2.2 percent to $4.345 and Spark New Zealand, the country's biggest telecommunications company, rose 0.6 percent to $3.55. 

Mighty River Power rose 0.3 percent to $3 and TrustPower gained 0.3 percent to $7.70. TrustPower's majority owner Infratil rose 0.3 percent to $3.26.

Tegel Group Holdings, the nation's largest poultry company, gained 1.8 percent to $1.66, while transport group Mainfreight rose 1.1 percent to $16.90.

Summerset Group Holdings led gains among retirement village operators, rising 0.7 percent to $4.51, while Metlifecare rose 0.5 percent to $5.58 and Ryman Healthcare gained 0.3 percent to $9.28.

Meridian Energy was the biggest decliner, falling 1.9 percent to $2.56 and Vital Healthcare Property Trust dropped 1.6 percent to $2.155.

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