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MARKET CLOSE: Sharemarket joins slide, Telecom reaction muted

Tuesday 19th April 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket slid 0.7% today, losing ground along with other markets on growing sovereign debt fears.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 25.19 points at 3439.98, having gained 12.5 points yesterday.

"We've held up better than most offshore markets, we just don't seem to have the same volatility as most," Hamilton Hindin Greene director Grant Williamson said.

"The market has performed reasonably well over a number of months so that's not surprising where we have a bit of a correction along the way - I think it's quite healthy for the markets that they don't get too carried away."

Reaction to a record fine for Telecom (NZX: TEL ) was muted, the stock losing a cent to $2.05.5.

The telco was fined a record $12 million by the High Court in Auckland for anti-competitive practices in the highest penalty imposed under the Commerce Act, following a 2009 judgment that Telecom has appealed.

Telecom was found to have charged downstream competitors disproportionately high prices for wholesale access to its network from 2001 to 2004.

"I think investors are more focused on the separation and the government broadband initiative, so there's very little focus on that side of things," Williamson said.

Among other blue chips, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) slid 9c to $9.05 following a strong run due to its acquisition of Australian company Crane and the outlook for work in rebuilding quake-damaged Christchurch.

Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) was down 2c at $5.80, Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) lost 3c to $2.19, Sky City (NZX: SKC ) fell 5c to $3.39 and Infratil (NZX: IFT ) lost 3c to $1.81.

Just six top-50 stocks rose, including fish exporter Sanford (NZX: SAN ), up 5c at $5.65, manufacturer , Skellerup (NZX: SKL ), up a cent at $1.30, and dual-listed Telstra (NZX: TLS ), up 2c at $3.75.

There were also gains in the property investment sector, with Kiwi Income Property Trust (NZX: KIP ) up 0.5c at $1.00.5 and Argosy Property (NZX: ARG ) a cent higher at 76.

Argosy, formerly ING Property Trust, is planning to internalise its management with a $32.5 million payment to the trust's manager.

The manager's shareholder is ANZ Bank-owned OnePath. Another OnePath-related trust, Vital Healthcare Property Trust, was also considering internal management.

"I think good news for unit holders if they go down that track - internalising it makes the manager and the investor more aligned than having an external manager," Williamson said.

A threat by Standard & Poor's to cut its AAA rating of US government debt and renewed worries about Europe's debt crisis spurred the sell-off in major world stock markets.

The weakness started in European markets on fears that Greece will have to restructure its debt possibly as early as the summer.

 

NZPA



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