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MARKET CLOSE: NZ sharemarket posts modest losses

Thursday 20th January 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket posted modest losses on a day in which global equity markets were weak after the S&P 500 suffered its biggest decline in two months.

"There's a lot of red round today. We came in this morning and the US market was down after a solid run," said Stuart Hardie, adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.

He said there were no real local drivers in the New Zealand market at the moment and today some investors decided to take profits.

The NZX-50 index closed down 6.731 points, or 0.201%, at 3339.286. Turnover was worth $71.54 million. There were 44 rises and 39 falls among the 118 stocks traded.

"We're finding it very difficult to get a read on sentiment at the moment. There seems to be an unusually large mix of moving parts - Queensland floods, US earnings, Chinese inflation concerns and European debt concerns, just to name a few.

"Each one is seemingly taking a turn at being the centre of attention and main catalyst on any given day," Ben Potter at IG Markets said.

Hardie said investors were finding the retail sector hard to read after Michael Hill and Kathmandu reported higher sales and discount retailer The Warehouse reported lower sales. Retail trade data for November due to be released by Statistics New Zealand tomorrow may help understand the sector.

"You'd think The Warehouse would do well at times like these. The thing with The Warehouse is how are they going to grow, where do they go from here?" he said.

The Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) fell 2c to $3.62 today, Kathmandu (NZX: KMD ) rose 3c to $2.08, and Michael Hill (NZX: MHI ) rose 1c to 91. Smiths City Group (NZX: SCY ) rose 3c to 35.

Among the leaders, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) rose 6c at $7.79, Telecom (NZX: TEL ) rose 1c to $2.27 and Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) fell 2c to $6.23. Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) rose 2c to $2.26 and Air NZ (NZX: AIR ) rose 1c to $1.44.

NZ Refining (NZX: NZR ) rose 4c to $4.70 on small volume but OceanaGold (NZX: OGC ) fell 9c to $3.85 and NZOG (NZX: NZO ) was unchanged at 86. Bathurst Resources (NZX: BTU ) rose 15c to $1.40. The company responded to a price query from the ASX on January 17 that it was not aware of any information that had not been announced.

Hallenstein Glasson (NZX: HLG ) rose 5c to $4.10, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (NZX: FPH ) rose 1c to $3.13 and Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) rose 1c to $7.98. Southport (NZX: SPN ) fell 16c to $2.60 and Mercer Group (NZX: MGL ) fell 3c to 7c.

In the US, financial stocks were among the biggest drags on the index after disappointing quarterly results from global investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 12.64 points to 11,825.29. and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 13.10 points to 1281.92.



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