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MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks rise to near-seven month high, led by Telecom

Wednesday 10th November 2010

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New Zealand stocks rose to the highest level in almost seven months, with Telecom dominating trade amid speculation some investors are betting it gains a share of the government’s broadband plan. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare paced gainers, while Westpac Bank Corp. fell.

The NZX 50 Index rose 11.71 points, or 0.4 %, to 3,333.48. Within the index, 19 stocks rose, 18 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $123.7 million.

Telecom (NZX: TEL ) rose 2.8% to $2.18 on the day, its highest level since May 4. Almost 35.4 million shares changed hands during the day, representing 1.9% of the company’s stock.

“Telecom is still awaiting the announcement from Crown Fibre on the government’s fibre-to-the-home initiative, and it looks like someone is backing that,” said Rickey Ward, domestic equities manager for Tyndall Investment Management. “Suggestions are that it is local fund manager, but speculation is always dangerous.”

F&P Healthcare (NZX: FPH ) rose 3% to $3.05 after the New Zealand dollar retreated to 77.69 US cents from nearly 80 cents after Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said the strength of the currency was holding back a rebalancing of the economy.

The company’s stock has come under significant pressure this year as the kiwi dollar began rising in June, with the US market accounting for 80% of sales.

Vector (NZX: VCT ) rose 1.7% to $2.47. New Zealand Refining (NZX: NZR ) rose 1.6% to $3.71, and carpet maker Cavalier (NZX: CAV ) rose 1.3% to $3.15.

Air New Zealand (NZX: AIR ) was unchanged at $1.37 after the airline escaped censure from the European Commission after the body imposed fines totaling 800 million euros on 11 airlines for operating as a cartel.

Rival Qantas Airways was fined 8.9 million euros for its part in the price-fixing activity. The 11 airlines were fined for cargo activities related to the European Economic Area.

Turners & Growers (NZX: TUR ) was unchanged at $1.40 after the fruit distributor said it would pay growers of Jazz apples $1 per tray as an additional one-off payment to compensate for the impact of the high New Zealand dollar.

Westpac (NZX: WBC ) fell 5% to $28.26 pacing decliners on the main board of the NZX after shedding its dividend. Ebos (NZX: EBO ) fell 2.3% to $7.28, Pike River Coal (NZX: PRC ) fell 2% to 99 cents, and PGG Wrightson (NZX: PGW fell 1.9% to 52 cents.

SkyCity (NZX: SKC ) fell 0.3% to $3.21 after Skyline Enterprises, the owner of 50% of Christchurch casino, rejected an undisclosed cash offer from the company.

The casino and hotel company had offered between $100 million and $110 million for half stake it didn't already own.

Goodman Property Trust (NZX: GMT ) fell 1% to 97 cents after the commercial and industrial properties owner and manager said increased finance costs had eroded interim distributable earnings.

Operating revenues were $53.1 million in the six months ended September 30, from $53.5 million a year earlier. Distributable earnings fell to $37.3 million, from $38.5 million, reflecting a 3.1% increase in financing costs.

The trust reported a net loss of $100.8 million in the first half, reflecting a one-off accounting adjustment of $131.7 million.

Burger Fuel (NZX: BFW ) was unchanged at 42 cents on the NZAX after it said it had secured a third store site in Saudi Arabia.

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