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MARKET CLOSE: NZX closes up but off best levels


Friday 18th March 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket closed higher today but below the best levels of the day as international markets continued to gyrate.

Asian stock markets rose after the Group of Seven agreed to intervene to stop the yen rising in a panic reaction to the Japanese earthquake and Wall Street rebounded following three days of declines.

Brokers here said the local market was really doing its own thing, but investors had a wary eye on the situation in Japan.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 9.922 points, or 0.298%, at 3339.509. Turnover was worth $146 million. There were 53 rises and 25 falls among the 105 stocks traded.

"I think we didn't spin out as much earlier in the week," said Nigel Scott at Craigs Investment Partners. "Here the ability to participate in the dividends we get off our stocks is what people look at," he said.

Interest rates were low and corporate balance sheets were generally in good shape in New Zealand.

Brokers were, however, concerned at investors expressing interest in unsolicited low-ball offers for a number of New Zealand companies from businessman Bernard Whimp and they urged investors to get advice. The Securities Commission today moved to force Whimp to correct the offers.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) gained 8c to $8.76 and Cavalier Carpets (NZX: CAV ) rose 20c to $3.60. Skellerup (NZX: SKP ) rose 8c to $1.33.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) eased 1.5c to $1.98 and Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) eased 9c to $5.75.

TrustPower (NZX: TPW ) rose 4c to $7.22 but Vector (NZX: VCT ) eased 5c to $2.35. Port of Tauranga (NZX: POT ) rose 9c to $7.85.

Methven (NZX: MVN ) fell 8c to $1.54 after issuing a profit warning, while Kathmandu (NZX: KMD ) rose 19c to $2.22 after beating earnings forecasts this week.

Tourism stocks have been under pressure and Air NZ (NZX: AIR ) as down 1c to $1.12, while Tourism Holdings (NZX: THL ) was unchanged at 60. SkyCity (NZX: SKC ) rise 7c to $3.34.

Abano Healthcare eased 7c to $4.32 and Ebos (NZX: EBO ) rose 4c to $7.32. Tower (NZX: TWR ) rose 2c to $1.75 and OceanaGold (NZX: OGC ) rose 19c to $3.34. PGG Wrightson (NZX: PGW ) was unchanged at 50. Guinness Peat Group (NZX: GPG ) rose 1c to 78c.

In the United States, natural resource stocks helped lead the market as commodity prices rebounded. Tensions in the Middle East and North Africa drove oil prices up sharply.

But options activity showed traders were increasing hedges against another decline in stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.4% at 11,774.51, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.3% at 1273.69, and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.7% at 2636.05.


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