Market close: New Zealand shares finish the week lower

The New Zealand sharemarket finished the week down more than 1 per cent as it heads for its worst year in 10 years in these uncertain Covid times.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index had a directionless day and with a late fall it closed at 13,086.60, down 18.01 points or 0.14 per cent, and falling 1.45 per cent for the week.

There were 79 gainers and 52 decliners over the whole market on light trading of 46 million shares worth $125.45 million.

The gross index, which includes dividends, is now down 0.05 per cent for the year – its worst performance (so far) since 2011 when it fell 1.04 per cent. The index had a year-long rise of 4.92 per cent in 2018, and its best years in the past decade were increases of 30.42 per cent in 2019 and 24.18 per cent in 2012.

The index fell 32.8 per cent at the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.

Jeremy Sullivan, investment adviser with Hamilton Hindin Greene, puts the index’s poor performance down to the slide in prices of Meridian, Contact and a2 Milk.

“The large companies have been pushed around,” he said. “Meridian and Contact were bid up by the passive investment funds and then the global clean energy index was rebalanced, to their detriment. And a2 Milk has been sliding most of the year.”

Meridian, which reached $9.40 in January, was down 3.5c to $4.865 and has fallen 11 per cent over the past 12 months. Contact, surging to $10.75 in January, gained 6c to $8.16 and is up more than 7 per cent for the past year.

Global marketer a2 Milk recovered 7c $6.31, and is down 59.5 per cent over the past 12 months.

Sullivan said the markets both here and overseas were steadied by the United States Senate agreement to increase the debt ceiling by US$480 billion ($692b) through to December.

“The headwind for the market now is rising interest rates, and this won’t help the income stocks like energy and property,” he said.

Fletcher Building rose 14c or 1.96 per cent to $7.28 after continuing its buy-back programme. Fletcher provided notice that it had bought another 320,832 of its own shares, at NZ$7.1665 and A$6.8013 a share, and will eventually return $300m to shareholders.

Fitch Rating has reaffirmed Heartland Group’s long-term rating of BBB, with a stable outlook, and Heartland’s share price gained 2c to $2.31.

Summerset Group Holdings rose 41c or 2.74 per cent to $15.40; Fonterra Shareholders’ Fund was up 11c or 2.85 per cent to $3.97; Skellerup Holdings gained 6c to $6.15; DGL Group picked up 8c or 2.84 per cent to $2.90; and EROAD collected 10c to $5.70.

Tourism Holdings increased 9c or 3.33 per cent to $2.79; Harmoney rose 4c or 2.16 per cent to $1.89; New Zealand Oil and Gas gained 2.5c or 5.43 per cent to 48.5c; Geneva Finance was up 4c or 5.13 per cent to 82c; and Rakon continued its strong run, rising 4c or 2.74 per cent to $1.50.

NZME increased 3c or 2.91 per cent to $1.06 after UBS Group AG told the market it had increased its stake to 8.62 per cent, from 7.1 per cent. In another notice, Spheria Asset Management Pty has increased its shareholding in Vista Group to 7.69 per cent, from 6.64 per cent. Vista’s share price was up 3c to $2.63.

Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare decreased 13c to $30.25; Ebos Group was down 75c or 2.12 per cent to $34.55; Mainfreight shed 77c to $92.83; Auckland International Airport declined 10c to $7.90;

Port of Tauranga was down 8c to $6.80; Marsden Maritime Holdings declined 8c to $6.27; Napier Port shed 4c to $3.14; The Warehouse Group decreased 5c to $4; and Z Energy was down 4c to $3.38.

Interest rate-sensitive property companies Investore was down 4c or 2 per cent to $1.96; Kiwi Property declined 2c to $1.15; and Property for Industry decreased 4c to $2.92.

Good Spirits Hospitality told the market it will redevelop a Customs St West premises in Auckland into an English Ale House. Good Spirits will then be the biggest hospitality operator at the Viaduct precinct, and is already running Danny Doolan’s and O’Hagans. Good Spirits’ share price was unchanged 69c.

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