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MARKET CLOSE: Sharemarket slips, Fletcher down

Thursday 16th December 2010

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Fletcher Building shares went on a roller coaster ride today as investors continued to assess its hostile takeover bid for Australian company Crane Group.

Within the first few minutes of trading today, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) shares were up 8c to 783, with investors appearing to look more favourably on the bid, which values Crane at $A740 million ($NZ982 million). But the stock traded as low as 763 before closing at 772, down 3c.

"At the moment you have a perverse situation with some people saying they are paying too much and others saying they won't get Crane because they need to pay more," said James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital.

"We need some clarity from Crane and more from Fletcher Building on what they will get out of the deal," he said.

About 40%  of Crane's share register is retail investors so the recommendation of independent directors will be important.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 4.146 points, or 0.126 percent, at 3293.777.

Air New Zealand (NZX: AIR ) shares rose 2c to 145 after Australia's ACCC said it had conditionally approved a commercial alliance on trans-Tasman routes with Virgin Blue. The agreement requires the airlines to maintain and grow the number of seats flown on routes with competition issues, primarily from Wellington. Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) rose 1c to 212.

Lee said there were conditions but the approval was good news.

"Obviously the market likes it. Airlines lose money on the Tasman and it makes sense to sort it out."

NZ Refining Co (NZX: NZR ) rose to its highest level in more than eight months with a 9c gain to 410, on top of a 10c gain yesterday. NZOG (NZX: NZR )  rose 4c to 86 and OceanaGold fell 1c to 453.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) rose 1c to 217, Mainfreight (NZX: MFT )  rose 5c to 775 and SkyCity (NZX: SKC ) rose 4c to 323. Methven (NZX: MVN ) rose 2c to 167 and TrustPower (NZX: TPW ) rose 2c to 733.

The Warehouse (NZX: WHS )  fell 9c to 352, Nuplex (NZX: NPX ) fell 12c to 340 and Rakon (NZX: RAK ) fell 3c to 115. Hallenstein Glasson (NZX: HLG ) fell 10c to 407 and NZX (NZX: NZX ) fell 2c to 143.

In the US, stocks ended lower with a third late-day sell-off in a row, suggesting it may be difficult to chalk further gains as the year comes to a close.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.17% to end at 11,457.47, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.51% to 1235.23, and the Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.4% to 2617.22.

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