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MARKET CLOSE: Fletcher Building helps propel sharemarket higher

Monday 28th March 2011

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A rise in the price of Fletcher Building shares helped propel the New Zealand sharemarket higher today, while many markets in Asia were weak.

Fletcher Building (NZX: FBU ) closed up 20c at $9.23 and traded as high as $9.28. The stock has not been at these levels since March 2008.

"Fletchers are absolutely the star of the show," said Ross Cuthbert, an adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.

He said the company was experiencing demand from "index" investors and there was ongoing positive sentiment about the work the country's largest building firm was likely to get from rebuilding earthquake-hit Christchurch.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 19.44 points, or 0.574%, at 3408.049, having been up 8.44 points in early trading. Turnover was worth $103 million. There were 42 rises and 31 falls among the 107 stocks traded.

"Overall, it has been a good day with the New Zealand market up half a percent when Asian markets other than China and the Philippines are down," Cuthbert said.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) rose 2.5c to $1.99 and Tower (NZX: TWR ) rose 4c to $1.80. OceanaGold (NZX: OGC ) rose 11c to $3.80, while New Zealand Refining (NZX: NZR ) was unchanged at $5.05.

Contact Energy (NZX: CEN ) rose 3c to $5.79, while TrustPower (NZX: TPW ) eased a cent to $7.19. The Electricity Authority launched an investigation into a spike in wholesale electricity market price at the weekend.

Pacific Edge Technology (NZX: PEB ) rose 18%, or 3.5c, to 23 after the company said Australian healthcare provider Healthscope Ltd will market its test for detection of bladder cancer.

APN (NZX: APN ) rose 9c to $2.10 and Ecoya (NZX: ECO ) rose 4c to 72. Smartpay (NZX: SPY ) was unchanged at 2.2 on a day it said it would seek to raise as much as $6 million from the sale of redeemable preference shares with a fixed dividend of 10%.

Xero (NZX: XRO ) fell 6c to $2.44, Cavalier Carpets (NZX: CAV ) fell 5c to $3.55 and Auckland Airport (NZX: AIA ) fell 1c to $2.17. Ebos (NZX: EBO ) fell 4c to $7.50 and SkyTV (NZX: SKT ) fell 3c to $5.50.

The Warehouse (NZX: WHS ) rose 2c to $3.45 and Sanford (NZX: SAN ) rose 2c to $5.12. Kathmandu (NZX: KMD ) rose 3c to $2.25 and Goodman Fielder (NZX: GFF ) rose 3c to $1.66.

In the US, stocks advanced for a third straight day on Friday (local time), with the three major stock indexes posting weekly gains after two straight weeks of declines brought on by the Japan earthquake, turmoil in the Arab world and a resurfacing of European debt problems.

"Overall, I keep looking at the pluses and minuses and this week has been spectacular with respect to everybody ignoring the minuses," said Kim Caughey Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4% to 12,220.59, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3% to 1313.80, and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.2%, to 2743.06.

For the week, the Dow gained 3.1%, the S&P climbed 2.7% and the Nasdaq advanced 3.8%.



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