Market close: NZ sharemarket falls as investors digest economic data

Investors stepped back to digest a flow of economic data and what it means as the New Zealand sharemarket fell half a per cent after two days of rises.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index was down 63.88 points or 0.49 per cent to 12,848.31 in rocky trading, after hitting an intraday low of 12,759.14 and high of 12,912.19.

There were 61 gainers and 70 decliners over the whole market, with 61.7 million shares worth $232.49 million changing hands.

The unemployment rate fell from 4.9 per cent to 4.7 per cent in the March quarter. An ANZ research note said further labour market gains will be hard-won this year.

“The market is already tight, and while demand for labour is high, skills mismatches, a dwindling number of jobseekers, and other dysfunctions in the market mean that employment growth may struggle to keep momentum,” the report said.

In its latest financial stability statement, the Reserve Bank said it was ready to implement more tools to cool the housing market, if needed. And Barfoot and Thompson said year-on-year house prices in Auckland increased 15 per cent but there is now a slower rate of growth in prices, at 0.2 per cent a month.

Also, overnight the US Treasury Secretary said interest rates may have to rise to keep the economy from overheating, and the technology-driven Nasdaq Composite fell 1.88 per cent to 13,633.50.

Shane Solly, portfolio manager with Harbour Asset Management, said the market had a lot of data to absorb. “Investors were a little bit cautious and stepped back to read and understand the information flow.

“There are concerns that long term bond yields may creep up, and our market featured a weakness in a number of big-cap stocks after recently having a good run,” he said.

Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare fell 99c or 2.79 per cent to $34.55; Ebos Group was down 42c to $30.50; and Summerset Group Holdings decreased 18c to $12.32.

The interest rate-sensitive energy stocks had mixed days. Contact fell 13c or 1.67 per cent to $7.65; Mercury lost 12c to $6.97; and Trustpower shed 8c to $8.60, but Genesis continued to climb, rising 4c to $3.51, and Meridian was up 2c to $5.52.

Other decliners were Serko, down 15c or 2.17 per cent to $6.75, and VITAL, slipping 2c or 2.47 per cent to 79c.

Telecommunications services provider VITAL announced a new sales channel with partner Logic Wireless, one of the largest distributors of land mobile radio and rugged cellular devices in New Zealand and Australia. Logic Wireless will connect wholesale digital radio services through its New Zealand dealer network.

Synlait Milk continued to recover, rising 9c or 2.65 per cent to $3.48; Freightways was up 10c to $11.25; Restaurant Brands climbed 55c or 4.1 per cent to $13.95; and The Warehouse Group gained 9c or 2.64 per cent to $3.50.

Other gainers were Fletcher Building, up 4c to $7.41; Infratil collecting 5c to $7.32; Vista Group increasing 5c or 2.04 per cent to $2.50; and Plexure Group rising 5c or 6.49 per cent to 82c.

To show how sensitive the market is, dual-listed ANZ Banking Group fell 81c or 2.6 per cent to $30.32 after reporting six months statutory profit of A$2.94 billion ($3.7b), up 45 per cent on the second half of the 2020 financial year. The group, which employs 38,555 staff, doubled its interim dividend to A70c a share.

The fall occurred when the bank said it is still failing to process applications fast enough, and it will invest more capital in technology. Westpac, which is cutting costs, rose 6c to $28.09.

ANZ New Zealand’s profit increased 18 per cent to $930m including a $32m loss on the UDC Finance sale, and revenue was up 2 per cent to $2.02b because of growth in lending with the housing, construction and agriculture sectors proving resilient during the Covid pandemic.

Dual-listed AFT Pharmaceuticals, which rose 10c or 2.13 per cent to $4.80, continues to announce distribution deals around the world – this time in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Uruguay for its Maxigesic pain relief medicine.

Another dual-listed stock, ikeGPS, told the market it has extended an agreement with a Fortune 100 US electric utility to design its power distribution infrastructure for additional $1.2m revenue in its 2022 financial year. Its share price rose 3c or 3.16 per cent to 98c.

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