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Pan Pacific, Sealegs lead NZX 50 lower; kiwi rises

Thursday 20th May 2010

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Declines in Pan Pacific Petroleum NL and Sealegs Corp outweighed gains in Renaissance Corp on the NZX 50 Index ahead of today's federal budget.

The NZX 50 fell 1.46 points, or 0.05%, to 3120.41, as at 11.59pm. On Wall Street, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.5% wiping out its 2010 gain, as Germany’s efforts to curb speculative activity prompted investors to pare their exposure to risky assets and US mortgage foreclosures jumped.

All eyes in New Zealand are on the government's second Budget, to be delivered in Parliament at 2pm.  A broadly fiscally neutral tax package is expected to raise the GST to 15%, lower personal tax rates and clamp down on a variety of trust and residential property investment practices that are allowing some high-income earners to avoid tax.

The Budget's importance for economic strategy is thrown into sharp relief also by the overnight release of the latest IMD World Competitiveness Index, which shows New Zealand slipped five places from last year to rank 20th of 54 developed and emerging countries as ranked by the Swiss business school.

Briscoe Group rose 2 cents to $1.30 after company executives told shareholders that the group "remains in a strong financial position to weather the ongoing volatile economic environment". In addition, executives said the group "continues to be favourably positioned to take advantage of investment opportunities".

Goodman Property Trust fell 1 cent to 94 cents. Forsyth Barr analyst Jeremy Simpson, trimmed his forecast for 2011 distributable profit to 8.6 cents a unit, the low end of the trust’s 8.6-to-8.8 cents guidance, according to the ShareChat website. Simpson rates the property investor a ‘buy’. Goodman is "well-positioned to capitalise on any recovery," Simpson said.

Kiwi Income Property Trust fell 2 cents to 94 cents after the trust posted a full-year loss, reflecting a reduction in the value of its portfolio as a result of the world-wide decline in property prices. Still, the trust said it would distribute as forecast a full-year payment of 7.5 cents a unit to its holders. Distributable profit was $61.1 million, up 0.2% on the previous financial year.

New Zealand Refining Co. rose 8 cents, or 2.4%, to $3.40. The nation’s only oil refinery benefited from a rally in oil prices. In New York, US front-month June crude oil futures settled higher and rallied more than a U.S. dollar in post-settlement trading on Wednesday.

Rakon was unchanged at 99 cents. After a tough first half, with some signs of recovery, the New Zealand-based global manufacturer of crystal oscillators used in navigation systems and mobile phones is scheduled to report results this week.

Sanford was unchanged at $4.45. The fishing company that exports most of its catch, led gainers on the NZX 50 Index yesterday, rising 2.3% to $4.45 as the kiwi dollar extended its slide, lifting the value of overseas sales. The currency was steady today.

ING Property Trust was unchanged at 74 cents. The Auckland-based property investor said yesterday that a write-down on the value of its portfolio put it into a covenant breach over its Manawatu Business Park joint venture. The trust posted a full-year loss of $53.7 million, down from a year-earlier $63.1 million.  

Warehouse Group rose 1 cent to $3.55. Woolworths was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald to still be interested in pursuing a takeover of the biggest retailer on the NZX.

As for the kiwi, the currency gained 0.6% to 68.17 US cents from yesterday, when it touched 66.60 cents, the weakest since August 2009. It rose to 62.50 yen from 62.15 yen.

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