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MARKET CLOSE: Sharemarket closes below new 29-month high

Tuesday 8th February 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket briefly edged up to a new 29-month high during the session today but ended with a touch of pessimism, as the market heads into the results season.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 4.24 points at 3383.17, having crossed 3389 earlier - its highest level since September 2008 when the global financial crisis hit markets.

"Marginal negative day, and the Australian market's slightly positive so we're not getting too many leads from offshore," said First NZ Capital director Philip Hunter.

"I think the general tone is people are waiting for the results season just to see how companies have fared over the last six months or so, but probably more importantly what their forward-looking statements are in terms of activity, so that will be the big focus of the market for the next couple of weeks really."

Yesterday the index rose 19.6 points as Fletcher Building shares hit a three-month high, attributed to Fletcher Building's likely inclusion in the S&P/ASX 200 index after taking over Crane Group.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) closed a cent lower today at $8.22.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) has been hurt by expectations of a decline in its weighting in the S&P/ASX 200 index, and its 3c fall today to a nearly one-month low of $2.18 followed a similar fall yesterday.

Telecom reports its first-half results on Friday, preceded by Steel and Tube, Mainfreight and AMP Office Trust on Thursday.

Among other blue chips, Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) rose 7c to $6.32, Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) was a cent higher at $2.27, Sky TV (NZX: SKT ) gained 6c to $5.46, and Sky City (NZX: SKC ) was down a cent at $3.35.

Discount retailer The Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) fell 2c to $3.63 after the company said it had made an internal appointment to chief executive after Ian Morrice leaves the company later this year. Mark Powell, head of Warehouse Stationery, will take over.

A handful of stocks rose, including Pumpkin Patch (NZX: PPL ), up a cent at $1.50, NZ Refining (NZX: NZR ), up 3c at $4.96, and Kathmandu Holdings (NZX: KMD ), 2c higher at $2.09.

Steel & Tube (NZX: STU ) fell 5c to $2.30, Port of Tauranga (NZX: POT ) lost 6c to $7.68 and Rakon (NZX: RAK ) was down 2c at $1.14.

Across the Tasman, the S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 0.5% at 4891.

Earlier in the  US, stocks closed with solid gains after several big acquisitions were announced and a strong earnings report from Loews Corp pushed financial companies higher.



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