Market close: NZ sharemarket falls more than half a per cent

The New Zealand sharemarket gave back much of its gains from the day before, falling more than half a per cent on steady trading as it entered the four-day Easter break.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 72.38 points or 0.58 per cent to 12,488.31, after rising 0.92 per cent on Wednesday. The index picked up in late trading, beforehand reaching an intraday low of 12,439.41.

There were 63 gainers and 74 decliners over the whole market, with 43.46 million shares worth $165.38 million changing hands.

Shane Solly, portfolio manager with Harbour Asset Management, said March was a strong month for the market which had been under-performing and “today it was giving back some of those strong returns.

“The market lately has been driven by the big index changes offshore – Auckland International Airport, for instance, was well bid and is down today – and when they rebalance their weightings this can have a disproportionate effect on our little market.

“We are still waiting to see the new weightings for Contact and Meridian in the global clean energy index and whether all the selling has taken place – but the stocks are holding well,” Solly said.

During March the NZX index rose 2.7 per cent, while the first quarter of the year was down 4.1 per cent. A year ago on April 1, the index sat at 9926.08 points.

“Overall during the last quarter we’ve not had a bad outcome considering bond yields have been going up globally,” said Solly.

Auckland International Airport fell 19c or 2.42 per cent to $7.65, after rising 2.2 per cent the day before. As the announcement for the transtasman travel bubble draws near, Air New Zealand gained 1.5c to $1.725, and Tourism Holdings climbed 7c or 2.8 per cent to $2.57. But SkyCity Entertainment fell 6c or 1.72 per cent to $3.42 after having a strong run.

Among the energy stocks, Meridian was up 19c or 3.53 per cent to $5.58, and Contact gained 7c to $7.08. Utilities investor Infratil was down 6.5c to $7.06.

Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was down 37c to $31.73 on profit-taking with $26.5m worth of its share changing hands, and a2 Milk fell 20c or 2.32 per cent to $8.42, while Synlait rose 6c or 1.76 per cent to $3.47.

Chorus continued to slide, falling 13c or 1.84 per cent to $6.95; Mainfreight declined 51c to $68.89; Ryman Healthcare shed 6c to $15.24; Summerset Group Holdings lost 19c to $11.95, Fletcher Building was down 9c to $6.99; and Port of Tauranga decreased 4c to $7.67.

The other ports went the other way. Napier Port was up 6c or 1.77 per cent to $3.45; Marsden Maritime Holdings gained 14c or 2.3 per cent to $6.24; and South Port New Zealand increased 10c to $9.20.

Retailers Briscoe Group and The Warehouse Group had positive days, rising 13c or 2.33 per cent to $5.70, and 8c or 2.12 per cent to $3.86 respectively. But fast food operator Restaurant Brands, a volatile stock, fell 18c to $13.12.

Other gainers were Plexure Group, up 6c or 6.98 per cent to 92c; Turners Automotive picking up 4c to $3.46; New Zealand King Salmon Investments collecting 4c or 2.67 per cent to $1.54; and Green Cross Health increasing 4c to $3.88.

Insurer AMP rose 4c or 2.9 per cent to $1.42 after announcing that ANZ deputy chief executive Alexis George will take over from retiring AMP chief executive Francesco De Ferrari on a starting salary, including superannuation, of A$1.715m ($1.87m) – with a short-term incentive equivalent to 100 per cent of salary for meeting performance indicators.

ANZ Banking Group was down 58c or 1.86 per cent to $30.58, and Westpac Banking Corporation fell 41c to $26.51.

Advanced technology company Rakon jumped 6c or 6.38 per cent to $1 – the first time it has touched that level for 10 years – after upgrading its earnings for the 2022 financial year. Having secured significant orders for its frequency control and timing products, Rakon now estimates its operating earnings (Ebitda) will be in the range of $27m-$32m, with an increase in revenue of at least 20 per cent. The 2021 Ebitda guidance of $20m-$22m remains.

Dual-listed AFT Pharmaceuticals slumped 57c or 11.52 per cent to $4.38 after downgrading its 2021 operating profit, which is expected to be $9-$11m – below its November guidance of $14m-$18m – because of delays in licensing negotiations blamed on the pandemic. Revenue is expected to increase from $105.6m to $110m.

Evolve Education Group was back trading after raising A$21.7m through an institutional share placement at A$1.10 a share. Evolve’s share price slipped 2c to $1.25.

Hospitality group Savor increased 0.005c or 2.5 per cent to 20.5c after raising $6m through an underwriter and shareholder rights issue to fund the purchase of three Hipgroup venues.

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