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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares mixed; Diligent jumps, Air NZ, Pike fall

Tuesday 13th April 2010

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New Zealand shares were mixed, in heavier than average trading,  with Guinness Peat Group leading advancers and Air New Zealand pacing weaker companies.

The NZX 50 Index fell 4.2, or 0.1%, to 3309.93. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 19 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover of $91 million was swelled by trading in Telecom Corp. and Telstra Corp., which were both unchanged.

Guinness Peat Group, the investment company that is promising a value return for shareholders, gained 2.3% to 89 cents. The stock has climbed 34% in the past 12 months, outpacing the NZX 50’s 27% gain.

Warehouse Group, the biggest retailer on the index, rose 0.8% to $3.83 and clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson Holdings rose 0.6% to $3.45 after government figures showed a jump in credit and debit card spending last month, stoking optimism the retail sector may be poised to strengthen.

The value of electronic point of sale transactions across all industries rose a seasonally adjusted 1.2% last month, after falling 0.4% in February, according to Statistics New Zealand.

NZX, the stock exchange operator that’s gearing up for the launch of commodity derivative trading, rose 2.2% to $1.88. Tower, the insurer part-owned by Guinness Peat, climbed 1.5% to $2.03.

Among small caps, Diligent Board Member Services surged 17% to 55 cents after the New Zealand-listed, New York-headquartered provider of online services to company boards, reported a 58% increase to $6.88 million in annualised licence fees and said it aims to be cash flow positive in the third quarter.

The company may end up being a takeover target, according to McDouall Stuart analyst Roger Paterson, who has a ‘buy’ rating on the stock.  “For anyone to replicate what Diligent’s done, it would be cheaper to buy them out,” Paterson said.

Millennium and Copthorne Hotels NZ fell 6.3% to 45 cents. The hotel group announced yesterday that a ‘rogue’ executive working for a Chinese joint venture partner has unlawfully sold Chinese hotel assets worth US$47.8 million, of which US$16.3 million belonged to Millennium.

Retailer Postie Plus Group fell 5.6% to 34 cents.

Among decliners, Air New Zealand fell 3.4% to $1.41 and Pike River Coal dropped 2.6% to $1.12.

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