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Market Update: Stocks mixed in light trade, Fletcher falls

Wednesday 24th December 2008

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New Zealand stocks were mixed, in light pre-Christmas trading, with Fletcher Building falling after figures showed the biggest drop in U.S. home sales for 21 years.

The NZX 50 Index rose 0.1268, or 0.1%, to 2663.011 in mid-day trading. Within the index, 13 stocks rose, nine fell and 28 were either unchanged or untraded. Fletcher, which sells building products including laminated board used in kitchens and bathrooms, fell 2% to NZ$5.85.

The median resale house price in the U.S. fell 13%, the most since records began in 1968, according to the National Association of Realtors said. The figures helped underline the deepening slump in the U.S. economy.

PGG Wrightson, the biggest rural services company on the NZX 50, gained 0.9% to NZ$1.07 after its finance arm completed the sale, including oversubscriptions, of NZ$100 million of bonds paying 8.25% interest.

New Zealand Oil & Gas, which has built a 15% stake in Tui oilfield partner Pan Pacific Petroleum, fell 0.8% to NZ$1.23 as the price of crude oil slid 2.3% to US$39.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The company is seeking Australian regulatory approval to lift its stake further in Pan Pacific though chief executive David Salisbury says it doesn't plan to move immediately.

Tourism Holdings, which sold its half stake in bus and ferry company InterCity this month for NZ$9.5 million, creating a loss of NZ$3.7 million, was the biggest gainer on the NZX today, rising 7.8% to 69 cents.

Air New Zealand rose 3.5% to 88 cents after announcing it is continuing compensation talks with Boeing Co. amid further delays to delivery of its 787-9 Dreamliners after a machinists strike and production tweaks.

The New Zealand carrier was to have received its first deliveries in early 2010 but in April the timing was delayed until 2012 and has since been pushed back to the first quarter of 2013.

In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.7% to 3590.1 in late morning trading as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto snapped their declines.

By Jonathan Underhill



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