MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares drift off six year high

Feb. 1 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand stocks took a breather, with the NZX 50 Index of leading stocks coming off a 76-month high at the end of January.

The NZX50 stood at 4,425.93, a decrease of 6.173 points, or 0.2 percent. Within the index, 17 stocks rose, 21 fell, and 12 were unchanged. Turnover was $148 million.

“We stayed strong through the end of January, but buyers stood aside for the first time in a while,” said Bryon Burke at Craigs Investment Partners. “It was due for a bit of a pull-back. There are a lot of prices that have gapped up on fairly thin volumes during January."

Market leader Fletcher Building, which stands to gain from the Christchurch rebuild and a spurt of housing activity in Auckland, fell 1.3 percent from yesterday’s $9.52 – its highest in five years – to close at $9.40.

Among the few gainers, outdoors equipment chain Kathmandu was the star performer, putting on 4.1 percent to close at $2.30 after announcing it would report an increased net profit for the half year by as much as 75 percent on the same period a year earlier.

Net profit was between $9.5 million and $10.5 million in the six months ended Jan. 27, compared to $6 million a year earlier, the retailer said in a statement. That came from a 13 percent increase in sales to $165.8 million. The result was in line with management’s expectations, and reflected strength in the Australian market.

New Zealand Oil & Gas also stayed strong after a positive quarterly activities report this week, up 2.2 percent to 92 cents.

Focus is slowly shifting to the mid-year earnings season, with the first major announcement due from Sky City on Feb. 13. Sky City shares were down 0.8 percent to $3.94 on a day when the company made a statement to the NZX saying it had been exploring investment opportunities in the Philippines but had no material announcements to make at present.

Leading the market lower was PGG Wrightson, down 2.3 percent at 43 cents, followed by a 1.7 percent drop in dual listed insurance and investment house AMP, at $6.55.

(BusinessDesk)

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