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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares chart new record as equity markets revive; Westpac, ANZ, A2 gain

Thursday 14th April 2016

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New Zealand shares rose, pushing the S&P/NZX 50 Index to a record, as global equity markets rallied. Westpac Banking Corp, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and A2 Milk Co gained while Z Energy and Restaurant Brands New Zealand dropped.

The NZX 50 rose 45.91 points, or 0.7 percent, to 6,823.82. Within the index, 28 stocks rose, 11 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $179 million.

Dual-listed stocks led the index, with Westpac up 4.4 percent to $34.36 and ANZ advancing 3.9 percent to $26.64. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 1.1 percent at 5pm New Zealand time, in line with markets across Asia after a strong finish from Wall Street overnight..

"Today's strength is mainly on the back of international strength from the United States and Australia, we're just following what's happening on the international scene," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

A2 Milk rose 3.9 percent to $1.88, continuing yesterday's rebound after the infant formula producer came under heavy selling across the NZX and ASX earlier this week as investors worried over changes to China's import regulations.

Today China's finance ministry said infant formula imports through international e-commerce sites would need official approval by 2018, a reassurance for investors who thought an earlier announcement meant the new rules would come into effect immediately.

Fletcher Building gained 2.3 percent to $8.16, an eight-month high. 

"It's broken very clearly through that $8 barrier," Williamson said. "It has had a very nice rally in recent weeks, and expectations of lower interest rates are good for the building sector. As one of the bigger companies on the index, it attracts domestic and foreign buyers."

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units rose 0.9 percent to $5.72. Fonterra Cooperative Group is proposing cutting its board numbers by two to 11 and having a single process for electing farmer appointed and independent directors as part of the first governance overhaul since it was established 15 years ago.

Z Energy was the worst performer, falling 2.3 percent to $6.94, and has gained 5 percent this year.

"It has been showing good strength, but the profit takers are back in charge today," Williamson said. 

Restaurant Brands dropped 2 percent to $5. Its annual profit grew 1 percent in 2016, the slowest pace in three years, as it was hit by higher costs, although the fast-food company said 2017 earnings could rise as much as 25 percent on growth in both KFC and Pizza Hut, and its expansion into New South Wales.

"The result was very reasonable, but it had been pretty much flagged to the market, there were no big surprises," Williamson said. "The share price is still near record levels, it has been a great perfomer."

Outside the main index, Augusta Capital advanced 4.3 percent to $1.09. The listed property investor and fund manager will post a revaluation gain of $3.7 million for the six months through March.

Hallenstein Glasson Holdings rose 2.1 percent to $2.90. Di Humphries is returning to the helm of Hallenstein Glasson’s women’s wear chain after a stint at the ailing children's clothing chain Pumpkin Patch.

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