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MARKET CLOSE: NZX 50 rises, rounding out flat quarter; NZX, CEN gain

Wednesday 31st March 2010

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New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 Index rose on the final day of a quarter where it made no gains. Stocks exchange operator NZX led gainers after predicting a strong year for listings and a pickup in terminal sales.

The NZX 50 rose 18.34, or 0.6%, to 3267.99, the highest close since mid January. Through the first quarter, the index has traced the shape of a V to end up about where it started.  Within the index, 18 stocks gained, 11 fell and 20 were unchanged. Turnover was a higher-than-average $102.1 million.

NZX rose 3.8% to $1.92. “A number of exciting initiatives were seeded in 2009 – we now need to ensure execution is of a high standard to enable the potential of the various opportunities before us to be realized,” chairman Andrew Harmos said in the annual report. “Management is enthusiastic about, and committed to, a successful 2010, albeit cognizant of the challenges that it will bring.”

Contact Energy rose 3.6% to $6.40, the highest close since August 2009, helped by rising wholesale electricity prices.

Pan Pacific Petroleum, the oil company that whips between being one of the biggest gainers and biggest decliners on the index, gained 3.2% to 32 cents.New York crude oil is trading above US$82 a barrel, bringing its gains this quarter to 3.8%. Crude for May delivery was at US$82.38 during Asia’s day.

New Zealand Oil & Gas gained 1.3% to $1.55. 

Abano Healthcare Group fell 1.9% to $5.30 after the investor in specialist medical clinics said second-half earnings will be “softer than planned” because of a drop in ACC referrals and a temporary slowdown in Australian Audiology. The company will maintain its annual dividend payment at 21 cents.

Sky City Entertainment Group, New Zealand’s biggest casino company, rose 0.6% to $3.22 as Standard & Poor’s raised the outlook on its BBB- credit rating to ‘positive’ from ‘stable,’ reflecting its more conservative approach to credit risks. S&P credit analyst Jennifer Wee said equity raising and the sale of its cinema business “have significantly improved the group's balance sheet and debt profile.”

Goodman Property Trust slipped 1% to $1. An independent valuation of the Trust’s property portfolio at March 31 resulted in a 1.9% reduction to $1.5 billion, the trust’s manager said today. The reduction was “principally attributable to a reduction in the carrying value of the development land portfolio.”

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay fell 2.6% to 37 cents, the biggest decline on the NZX 50 today.

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