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Market Close: NZX slips at end of first week of 2011

Friday 7th January 2011

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The New Zealand sharemarket ended its first trading week of 2011 down, after three days of thin trade with many investors still in holiday mode.

The shares of the stock exchange operator, NZX, closed 0.6 percent lower today, down 1c at 158, after the company disclosed that the average number of daily trades on the market was down 6.4 percent in 2010.

The benchmark NZX-50 index fell 1.07 points in early trade and over the afternoon continued falling so that yesterday's small gain of 1.7 points was wiped out. It finished down 0.264 percent, losing 7.77 points to finish at 3317.942.

The index finished at 3309.03 points on December 31, and still hasn't made up the 25 points it dropped in the last day of trading for 2010.

There were 21 rises and 47 falls as 14.7 million shares changed hands, valued at $46.5m.

In the first week of trading for the calendar year, cornerstone stock Telecom racked up the most sales, 9.3 million valued at $20.35m, but the biggest value of transactions was recorded by Fletcher Building: $24.2m for the sale of 3.12m shares.

Fletcher finished the day up 8c at 778, a 1 percent lift, and Telecom dropped 3c to 218.

Freightways lost 3c in early trade and finished the day down 5c at 310, to 312, while NZ Refining Corp added 1c to 440, and infrastructure investor Infratil fell 3c to 191.

The legal merger of CBS Canterbury, Southern Cross Building Society and Marac was completed with the allotment of shares in holding company Building Society Holdings, which were transferable as of today, but are not expected to list on the NZX until January 31.

Over 72 percent of the stock is held by Marac owner Pyne Gould Corporation, which has said it intends to distribute to its shareholders most of the holding in Building Society Holdings and to place the rest. PGG's price was steady at 380.

Brokers expect trade to become a bit busier as more investors return from holiday from Monday, and later in the month people will start looking to data from company performances in the December quarter.

In the United States, stocks slipped as soft retail sales and a sharp rise in the greenback left investors edgy. The Dow and S&P 500 dipped as disappointing sales from top retailers dented hopes about the holiday shopping season and energy shares fell with oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 36.06 points, or 0.31 percent, at 11,686.83. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.3 percent at 1272.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 3.75 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,705.95.

Across the Tasman, Australian stocks fell as investors continued counting the impact of severe floods in Queensland.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 20 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 4705, ending the first week of the year 0.9 per cent lower. The broader All Ordinaries index fell 19.1 points today, or 0.4 per cent, to 4812.

Among the sectors, materials slumped 1.3 per cent, financials slipped 0.2 per cent, but energy gained 0.1 per cent.

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