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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain at end of quarter, Sky TV, Scales rise while Meridian drops

Friday 30th September 2016

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New Zealand shares gained, with turnover peaking for the week as investors tidied their portfolios. Sky Network Television and Scales Corp gained while Meridian Energy fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 17.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7.361.09. Within the index, 23 stocks gained, 21 fell and six were unchanged. Turnover was $187.3 million.

"People are tidying up some things, there's quarter-end, month-end stuff, and there appears to be fairly significant intraday volatility in some stocks - there's quite decent volume gone through and it appears to be offshore driven," said Craig Stent, director and research analyst at Harbour Asset Management. 

Sky Network Television led the index, up 3.6 percent to $4.92, while Scales Corp gained 2.9 percent to $3.23 and Metlifecare advanced 2.1 percent to $6.25. 

Air New Zealand was unchanged at $1.86. The airline is considering a $75 million retail bond offer next month to partially repay the upcoming maturity of an existing $150 million note, with full details available next week.

At its annual meeting in Christchurch today, it reiterated its warning to shareholders that increased competition will hurt revenue this financial year. The company has forecast 2017 earnings before tax will be more subdued in the range of $400 million to $600 million, based on a fuel price of US$55 per barrel for the rest of the year, compared to $806 million before significant items and tax in 2016.

"They reaffirmed their guidance range, it's no surprise there's increased competition," Stent said. "It's obviously a good story for Auckland Airport because they're getting more route development but that brings competition for the likes of Air New Zealand."

Auckland International Airport's shares rose 0.7 percent today to $7.35, and have gained 24 percent this year, while Air New Zealand's have fallen 29.3 percent in the year.

Heartland Bank was the worst performer, down 2 percent to $1.51. Xero dropped 1.8 percent to $19.35 and Tower fell 1.6 percent to 92.5 cents.

Meridian Energy dropped 0.8 percent to $2.60. Some 9.2 million shares in the company were traded today, worth $23.6 million. The stock fell as low as $2.56 and bounced as high as $2.63 in the day's trading.

In the last month or so the market theme has been for yield or yield-related stocks such as the gentailers and Spark to come under selling pressure, Stent said.

"That reflects that interest rate rises may be just around the corner from the Fed," he said. "People have been selling these stocks, and it's a bit self-fulfilling, because once someone starts, everyone else does too."

Outside the main index, Intueri Education Group dropped 5 percent to 11.4 cents. ACC sold over 1 million shares in the company this week, reducing its holding to 3.8 percent, one of several sellers in the wake of a cascade of bad news. Intueri told the market this week that its Australian schools are at risk of being struck off for failing to comply with standards, and yesterday wrote to staff saying it was restructuring, combining six of its New Zealand schools into one and ditching the tainted Quantum brand.

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