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MARKET CLOSE: Falling Fletcher Building weighs on sharemarket

Tuesday 12th April 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket eased slightly today on the back of hefty losses for several stocks and broader concerns about the upgraded disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

The NZX-50 index closed down 9.98 points, 0.3%, at 3451.34, having gained 16 points yesterday on the back of a strong rise in the price of Fletcher Building shares.

Today, Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) hit a three-year high of $9.53 before plunging during the session to close down 14c at $9.38.

Electricity and gas distributor Vector  also slid, after the company expressed dissatisfaction with a Commerce Commission proposal related to regulated pricing for monopoly network owners.

Vector (NZX: VCT ) closed down 7c, or 2.9%, at $2.39, adding to yesterday's 11c loss.

The commission's proposal overturned the basis which most lines companies and market participants had been using to estimate the impact of the new regulatory regime for a considerable period of time, Vector said.

Other blue chips were mixed. Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) rose 3c to $5.76, Telecom (NZX: TEL ) lost 1.5c to $1.98, casino company Sky City (NZX: SKC ) rose 3c to $3.47 and Sky TV (NZX: SKT ) was down 4c at $5.70.

Infrastructure investor Infratil (NZX: IFT ) was flat at $1.85, while its energy asset TrustPower (NZX: TPW ) rose 10c to $7.40.

Port of Tauranga (NZX: POT ) closed down 12c at $8.38, retailer The Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) lost 5c to $3.40, Mainfreight (NZX: MFT ) fell 3c to $9.27 and seafood exporter Sanford (NZX: SAN ) was down 5c at $5.50.

On the rise was Freightway (NZX: FRE ), up 3c at $3.31, Restaurant Brands (NZX: RBD ), 3c higher at $2.52, and Hallenstein Glasson (NZX: HLG ), up 5c at $3.75.

Japan's nuclear plant operators Tepco upgraded the seriousness of radiation leaks out of the Fukushima nuclear plant, badly damaged by last month's earthquake and tsunami, to the highest possible and on a par with Chernobyl.

Some currencies, including the New Zealand dollar, and equity markets softened amid the worsening situation as investors sold out of investments considered riskier in favour of safe havens.

Across the Tasman, the S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 1.4% at 4900.60, while Tokyo's Nikkei share average was down 1.7%.

Earlier in the US, stocks mostly fell as energy shares sold off on lower oil prices, and the onset of earnings season was clouded by concern that company outlooks may fall short of expectations.

Worries that increased raw material costs and the effects from Japan's earthquake may affect coming quarters would put companies' forward-looking statements under increased scrutiny.

 

NZPA



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