Market close: Large-cap stocks hit as NZ sharemarket has sharpest fall in a month

Inflation and interest rates are still under control, but that didn’t fire up the New Zealand sharemarket which had its sharpest fall in a month, with the large-cap stocks being hit.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 143.21 points or 1.13 per cent to 12,535.34 – the previous biggest one-day fall of 1.49 per cent occurred on March 22. There were only 43 gainers and 90 decliners on steady volume of 37.78 million share transactions worth $164.7 million.

The first quarter consumer prices index (CPI) rose 0.8 per cent, below the Reserve Bank’s forecast of 1 per cent, and inflation is running at 1.5 per cent annually.

Jeremy Sullivan, investment adviser with Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the CPI is still below the target range of 2 per cent, leading to lower interest rates.

“Perhaps people were expecting a little more inflation but it hasn’t hit us; we will soon see. Wall Street overnight and the ASX are down and our market is following suit, with a broader weakening in stocks. It’s a buyers’ strike, but at the moment there’s no catalyst to give us a strong market direction,” Sullivan said.

After a record last week, the Dow Jones Industrial Index fell 256 points or 0.75 per cent to 33,821.30; S&P 500 Index was down 0.68 per cent to 4134.94; and Nasdaq Composite lost 0.92 per cent to 13,786.27, as concerns about rising Covid cases globally offset healthy US corporate earnings reports for the first quarter.

Interestingly, the US State Department urged Americans not to fly to 80 per cent of the world’s countries due to the risks associated with the pandemic.

The Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 0.45 per cent to 6986.50 at 5.45pm (NZ time).

Among the large-cap stocks, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare fell 50c to $33; a2 Milk was down 31c or 3.6 per cent to $8.31; Ebos Group shed 98c or 3.15 per cent to $30.10; Auckland International Airport declined 18.5c or 2.4 to $7.51; Spark decreased 6c to $4.42; and Pushpay Holdings was down 5c or 2.62 per cent to $1.86.

Retirement village operators Ryman Healthcare fell 50c or 3.42 per cent to $14.14, and Summerset Group Holdings was down 24c or 1.98 per cent to $11.86.

Freightways decreased 14c to $11.24; Air New Zealand declined 2c to $1.74; Serko declined 11c to $6.84; and Sanford fell 7c to $4.63.

Amongst the energy stocks, Meridian fell 13c or 2.26 per cent to $5.562, and Mercury declined 8.5c to $6.58.

Mercury reported that hydro inflows during the third quarter ending March were 1636GWh below average, causing storage to decline 1914GWh, 1181GWh below average). Hydro generation increased 71GWh to 910GWh, compared with the previous corresponding period, as Mercury responded to high spot prices. Geothermal generation of 658GWh was similar to the previous period.

The financial services sector also had a downer. ANZ Banking Group fell 71c or 2.29 per cent to $30.33, Westpac Banking Corporation declined 63c or 2.31 per cent to $26.65, and AMP was down 5c or 3.58 per cent to $1.25.

Among the few gainers, Port of Tauranga rose 10c to $7.46; Chorus gained 6c to $6.53; Seeka increased 10c or 1.94 per cent to $5.25; and Allied Farmers was up 4c or 7.69 per cent to 56c.

Kiwi Property is building a second $63m office building at Sylvia Park shopping centre, starting in October and it will have a 6 Green Star rating. The six-level, 7450 sq m building will include health and medical services, and Kiwi’s share price gained 1c to $1.245. Fellow property company Argosy increased 5c or 3.4 per cent to $1.52.

Transport technology firm EROAD surged 47c or 9.25 per cent to $5.55 after providing an upbeat report for the three months ending March. EROAD sold 2726 contracted units, reflecting continued growth in all its markets, and the sales included 1054 Dashcam units in United States in March, after beginning marketing and selling of the new product the same month. The company also more than doubled its logbook subscriptions in New Zealand, and has reaffirmed its earlier 2021 and 2022 earnings forecasts.

Just Life Group has bought 60 per cent of Designer Tanks, saying droughts are becoming regular events in New Zealand and designer rainwater tanks, rather than the large round ones, are seen as necessary in every household. Just Life’s share price gained 1c to 88c.

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