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NZX CLOSE: Shares fall, following downbeat sentiment in Asia

Thursday 8th April 2010

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New Zealand shares halted their four-day gain and followed global equity markets lower as the Asian session mirrored declines in Europe and the US.

The NZX 50 Index dropped 17.31, or 0.5%, to 3307.76. Within the index 19 stocks declined, 15 were unchanged, and 16 advanced. Turnover was $64.7 million.  

Stock markets around Asia dropped, with Australia’s S&P/ASX down 0.5% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.2%.  

“Across Asia, equity markets are lower for the first time in six sessions following the weaker overnight leads from Wall Street and unexpected softness in Japanese machinery orders,” said Ben Potter, research analyst at IG Markets in Melbourne. 

Dual-listed oil company Pan Pacific Petroleum NL continued its recent volatility amidst weaker commodity prices, leading the index lower as it fell 2.9% to 34 cents, though part-owner New Zealand Oil & Gas was unchanged at $1.60.

New Zealand Refining Co. dropped 2.3% to $3.85.  

Sky Network Television  dropped 1.7% to $5.25 on a day when it announced it had secured the rights from the SANZAR, the group representing New Zealand, Australian and South African rugby, to broadcast live rugby matches.  

That came on the same day that MediaWorks, the now unlisted owner of TV3, announced it was pulling the plug on its breakfast programming in a bid to cut back costs.  

Market benchmarks Fletcher Building, Telecom and Contact Energy dropped 1.5% to $8.37, 0.9% to $2.22 and 1.1% to $6.43 respectively.

These three companies accounted for about 57% of the day’s turnover.  

The index’s top performer was coal miner Pike River Coal which jumped 10% to $1.09. James Lindsay, equities manager at Tyndall Investment Management, said the company was potentially going through its own rights issue, and had been very strong amidst continued upgrades to coking coal price expectations.  

Dual-listed Telstra Corp. rose 2.8% to $4.06, while manufacturer Steel & Tube Holdings gained 2.3% to $2.65.  

National carrier Air New Zealand continued its strong run being upgraded by analysts over its likely gains due to the Rugby World Cup next year, rising 2.2% to $1.42.  

Property investors ING Property Trust and AMP NZ Office Trust came off the boil, falling 1.3% to 74 cents and 1.3% to 75 cents respectively.  

NZ Windfarms gained 2 cents (9.5%) to 23 cents after it released its prospectus to the market in its 8-for-3 share issue as it seeks to raise some $34.1 million.

Earlier this week, the company’s shareholders voted to approve its request to allow cornerstone investor Vector  to boost its holding to 40%.

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