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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise; Comvita, A2 Milk gain, Steel & Tube extends slide

Thursday 28th July 2016

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New Zealand shares gained in relatively subdued trading ahead of earnings season. Comvita and A2 Milk rose while Steel & Tube Holdings dropped.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 4.44 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,306.34. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 18 fell and three were unchanged. Turnover was $124.4 million.

Comvita led the index, up 4.1 percent to $10.78. The stock has gained 23 percent this year but dropped to a 3-month low of $10.35 on Tuesday. Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said there may be some bargain hunting coming into the stock after it dropped for a few weeks.

A2 rose 2.6 percent to $1.95, while Metro Performance Glass gained 2.2 percent to $1.90, and New Zealand Refining Co was up 2.1 percent to $2.45.

Mainfreight advanced 0.9 percent to $17.10. The transport and logistics group held its annual meeting today. 

"The share price reaction is pretty muted. The stock's up marginally," Lister said. "All they really said was current trading conditions are better than last year and they should have a stronger first-half result, but it's pretty short commentary on the outlook and doesn't give us a lot of direction, hence the share price is relatively unmoved."

Steel & Tube Holdings was the worst performer, down 4.1 percent to $2.09. 

"I think they've still got a few issues to work through - all of those challenges they've been facing with their product in terms of their accreditation, I think there's still more headwinds for them on that front, and the stock did have a pretty good rally at the end of last month," Lister said. "It was $1.86 at the start of the month and went up to $2.23, so it's probably fair that some of the heat has come out of it - I think it's a case of ongoing question marks which will take a bit of time for people to get clarity around."

Genesis Energy dipped 2.2 percent to $2.18. The chief executive Marc England, who took up the role in May, has announced an overhaul of his management team with three executives departing and Chris Jewell confirmed as chief financial officer.

Xero dropped 1.8 percent to $19.58 and Chorus fell 1.8 percent to $4.46.

Investore Property declined 0.6 percent to $1.64. The Stride Property offshoot, which has a large format retail properties portfolio, said today that the Woolworths announcement on Monday that it expects to close six Countdown supermarkets will not affect Investore. The property investor owns 26 Countdowns and is in the process of buying 8 more. 

Outside the main index, Energy Mad dropped 3.3 percent to 5.8 cents. The energy efficient light-bulb maker says it made an unaudited operating profit of $348,000 in the first three months of its financial year 2017, hailing a modest "turning of the corner" as it focuses on meeting demand driven by state-supported schemes in Australia.

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