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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise in run-up to Christmas

Friday 23rd December 2016

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 New Zealand shares rose in abbreviated trading ahead of the Christmas holiday, led by blue-chip stocks including Auckland International Airport and Spark New Zealand, while Tenon gained on the prospect of it selling its remaining assets. 

The S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 25.13 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,877, extending its run of gains to six sessions. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 16 declined, and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $57.6 million, some $9.1 million of that on trading in A2 Milk shares, which fell, with light trading in the run-up to Christmas and the stock exchange settling at the earlier time of 1.30pm. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index was largely flat in early trading, with both bourses shrugging off Wall Street's decline. 

Auckland Airport led the NZX 50 higher, rising 2.3 percent to $6.66, while Spark gained 1.8 percent to $3.45. Port of Tauranga was up 1.6 percent to $3.79 and Meridian Energy increased 1.6 percent to $2.575. Heartland Bank also gained 2 percent to $1.50. 

"Unsurprisingly, there's not a deal of news out there today," said Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management in Auckland. "The markets don't close, and we certainly intend to carry on. What tends to happen is that there's a lot less research written and a lot less company-specific news."

Warehouse Group posted the biggest decline on the benchmark index, falling 2.4 percent to $2.80 ahead of the final flurry of Christmas trading. Earlier this week the country's biggest listed retailer warned trading was weaker than expected in the run-up to the all-important Christmas trading period. 

Among other stocks to fall, A2 Milk Co dropped 2.3 percent to $2.09 on turnover of $9.1 million, while Argosy Property slipped 1 percent to $1, and Vector declined 1 percent to $3.13. 

Outside the benchmark index, Tenon said it's holding exclusive talks with a potential buyer of its New Zealand assets, which if successful would see the entity return surplus cash and liquidate what used to be Fletcher Challenge. The shares rose 4.6 percent to $2.30, and shares of Rubicon, which controls Tenon, gained 4.8 percent to 22 cents. 

"If that does result in a transaction in the new year it would see Tenon wound up, bringing an end to an era," Goodson said. 

Fletcher Building, which was carved out of the Fletcher Challenge empire in 1996 and remains one of the biggest companies on the local bourse, slipped 0.2 percent to $10.75. 

IkeGPS, which makes laser measurement tools, was unchanged at 39 cents after Harbour Asset Management said it sold its 7.4 percent stake at 31.2 cents apiece on market in trading yesterday. 

 

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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