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MARKET CLOSE: NZ sharemarket falls on Middle East fears

Thursday 10th March 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket eased today as tensions in the Middle East, weak economic data and profit-taking took a toll on equity markets.

A move by the Reserve Bank to cut the official cash rate cut by 50 basis points to 2.5% in response to last month's Christchurch earthquake was largely anticipated, and the New Zealand dollar dipped then recovered somewhat.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 8.19 points, or 0.24%, at 3406.24. Turnover was worth $140 million. There were 34 rises and 39 falls among the 110 stocks traded.

"Regional markets are getting hammered despite the flat lead from the US. Participants are concerned about the tensions in the Middle East escalating, as well as the weaker-than-expected trade balance figures out of China," Ben Potter at IG Markets said.

"There's a massive exodus of funds from the cyclical sectors; it looks like money is flowing to perceived safe havens," he said.

Mainfreight's (NZX: MFT ) stellar rise this week after announcing a deal to buy Netherlands-based transport and logistics firm Wim Bosman Group came to an end and it closed down 22c at $8.88. Telecom (NZX: TEL ) closed down 4c at $2.04 and Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) closed down 2c at $5.99. 

Abano Healthcare (NZX: ABA ) fell 6c to $4.54 on a day NZX said the company will leave the NZX-50, while Methven (NZX: MVN ) rose 8c to $1.73 on news it will be added to the index.

Pumpkin Patch (NZX: PPL ) fell 5c to $1.31, Nuplex (NZX: NPX ) fell 8c to $3.15 and Vector (NZX: VCT )  fell 3c to $2.40. SkyCity (NZX: SKC ) eased 3c to $3.39 and OceanaGold (NZX: OGC ) fell 5c to $3.65. NZX (NZX: NZX ) rose 10c to $2.10 and volume was high.

Pyne Gould Corp (NZX: PGC ) rose a cent to 30. PGG Wrightson (NZX: PGW ) rose a cent to 53 on a day the company said it has no idea what Zuellig Group is planning after expressing interest in media interviews in investing.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) rose 8c to 48.86 and Cavalier Carpets (NZX: CAV ) rose 1c to $3.26. Xero (NZX: XRO ) rose 9c to $2.61 and Scott Technology (NZX: SCT ) rose 4c to $1.32. NZOG (NZX: NZO ) rose 3c to 94 and NZ Refining (NZX: NZR ) was unchanged at $5.00 after releasing an operating update.

In the US, the two-year anniversary of the fastest bull market since the 1950s ended on a down note, with stocks closing slightly lower as the price of oil remained above US$104 a barrel because of the continuing conflict in Libya.

At the market close, the Dow Jones industrial average edged down less than 0.1% to 12,213, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 0.1% to 1320, and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.5% to 2752.



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