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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares gain, led by A2, Infratil, Contact Energy

Monday 16th January 2017

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New Zealand shares rose, with A2 Milk Co and high-yielding stocks such as Contact Energy and Genesis Energy gaining, with market activity still quiet ahead of February's reporting season.

The S&P/NZX50 Index rose 27.97 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,074.94. Within the index, 28 stocks rose, 14 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $85 million.

"I suspect a lot of fund managers and investors are still drifting back into the office this week," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "I'm expecting it to be a bit subdued ahead of the reporting season, we've got the US market closed overnight so there's not a lot of drivers from offshore but our market has had a pretty good start to the year now, up about 2.5 percent, following a weak finish last year. Our reporting season is really the next key driver for the local market."

A2 Milk Co led the index, up 3.6 percent to $2.30. The stock has recovered after being sold off amidst uncertainty about ASX-listed Bellamy's Australia. Last week, Bellamy's shares plunged when it cut its profit forecast for the second time and announced chief executive Laura McBain's exit.

"They seem to be performing well after the issues their competitor Bellamy's has had over in Australia, investors have taken heart from the fact they seem company-specific rather than sector wide issues so A2's had a bit of an uplift today," Lister said.

Some higher-yielding stocks, which had been under pressure when interest rates rallied strongly into the end of 2016, rose today as interest rates begin to come down somewhat, Lister said. Contact Energy gained 1.4 percent to $4.95, Genesis Energy rose 0.9 percent to $2.17 and Auckland Airport advanced 0.5 percent to $6.755.

Infratil rose 2 percent to $2.865 and Summerset Group Holdings gained 2 percent to $4.68.

Kiwi Property was the worst performer, down 1.4 percent to $1.415. Vector dropped 1.2 percent to $3.24 and Vital Healthcare Property Trust fell 1.2 percent to $2.065.

Outside the benchmark index, Hellaby Holdings gained 0.3 percent to $3.58. Its independent directors now support a takeover bid by ASX-listed auto parts firm Bapcor after the offer was declared unconditional. Bapcor wants Hellaby for its automotive business and plans to sell its equipment, resources and footwear businesses. On Friday Bapcor declared the $3.60-per-share offer unconditional, after it secured more than 50 percent of the shares, and extended the closing date to Feb. 7. As of this morning, it owned 56 percent of Hellaby.

Veritas Investments was unchanged at 20 cents. ANZ Bank New Zealand has agreed to extend the deadline for Veritas to either sell or begin winding up its Nosh food supermarkets until the end of the month. The shares have dropped 60 percent in the past year.

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