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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Meridian, Warehouse, Air NZ decline as global equities slide

Tuesday 31st January 2017

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New Zealand shares fell, joining a global selloff as US President Donald Trump spooked markets with his ad hoc policy decisions. Meridian Energy, Warehouse Group and Air New Zealand declined. 

The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 34.8 points, or 0.5 percent, to 7,050.76. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 14 rose and six were unchanged. Turnover was $106.7 million 

Asian markets were weaker today as the impact of US President Donald Trump's travel ban on refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, alongside his firing of attorney-general Sally Yates, worried investors, after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 0.6 percent overnight, its biggest fall in a month. At 5:15pm New Zealand time, Japan's Nikkei 400 was down 1.4 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 0.7 percent.

"The market's had a bit of a run from its mid-December lows, we'd had a nice little bounce, so maybe some people are taking money off the table," said James Smalley, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "It's probably just a defensive tactic, you never know what Mr Trump's going to pull out of the hat, and light volumes exacerbate the selling."

"We may be back in the old trend of following the movement but not the magnitude of the move. It's one of those low-volume, early-week days where there's not a lot to move the market, people are waiting for the imminent reporting season in a fortnight for some reads going forward," Smalley said.

Meridian Energy led the index lower, falling 4 percent to $2.63. The electricity generator-retailer has lost its dispute with the Wellington City Council over $1.2 million in rates paid for its wind farms, with the High Court ruling the council acted lawfully in how it calculated the bill.

Warehouse Group declined 3.7 percent to $2.62. In December, New Zealand’s largest publicly listed retailer said profit may fall between 10-and-15 percent in the first half of its financial year on a weaker-than-expected run up to Christmas.

"The stock had had a reasonable bounce up towards the end of last year, that trading update which obviously disappointed the market before Christmas is obviously continuing to sell down. It's wiped out the whole of year's gains, it's been a reasonably precipitous fall from grace," Smalley said.

Air New Zealand fell 2.8 percent to $2.10, SkyCity Entertainment Group dropped 2.3 percent to $3.78 and Z Energy was down 2.3 percent to $7.28. 

Heartland Bank was the best performer, up 1.3 percent to $1.58, and Metlifecare gained 1.3 percent to $5.58.

Sky Network Television dropped 0.9 percent to $4.64. It will pay an early interim dividend ahead of the planned merger with Vodafone New Zealand and raise the cash portion of its acquisition of the telecommunications carrier to reflect a bigger return than their agreement provided for. 

Outside the benchmark index, Oceania Natural was unchanged at $1.94. The honey and noni juice products maker's third-quarter revenue growth stalled as an unstable grey market in China prompted it to rethink its distribution into the world's most populous nation. 

Veritas Investments was unchanged at 15 cents. The food and beverage investor  has been given a second extension, until Thursday afternoon, to either sell or begin winding up its Nosh food supermarkets by its lender, ANZ Bank New Zealand. It took on a $5 million funding line with ANZ to buy the Nosh stores in 2014 but has struggled to turn the gourmet supermarkets into a profitable business.

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