MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise, led by Telecom

Dec. 18 (BusinessDesk) – New Zealand shares rose, led by Telecom as equity markets worldwide took heart from signs of progress on fiscal cliff talks in Washington that may help the US economy avoid recession. Tech stocks Diligent Board member Services and Xero both rose.

The NZX 50 Index rose 12.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3979.25. Within the index, 19 stocks rose, 23 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $928 million, reflecting Fairfax Media’s sale of 51 percent of Trade Me.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index led gains in stock markets across Asia, rising 1.1 percent. That follows a 1.2 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index yesterday after a meeting between US President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner at the White House and signs the two sides may be willing to compromise to avoid some US$600 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to start Jan. 1.

Telecom rose 4.4 percent to $2.25, the highest in more than a week. Contact Energy, the biggest power company on the exchange, rose 1.6 percent to $5.09.

“What’s really pushed our market into positive territory is Telecom, which is a proxy for the NZX and one international investors are buying,” said Greg Easton, an adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. The White House talks show “there’s dialogue and that’s better than last time.”

Diligent, which sells software to help company directors keep track of meetings, rose 2.7 percent to $5, a record close. The shares have soared 144 percent this year. Xero, the cloud-based accounting service, rose 0.7 percent to $7.70, matching the record close it reached on Dec. 3, and is up 175 percent this year. Shareholder and company chief Rod Drury was today named as the NZ Herald Business Leader of the Year.

Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the exchange, fell 0.5 percent to $8.10. The company today named Nick Olson as chief financial officer, luring him across from the same role at Telecom. Current Fletcher CFO Bill Roest will retire in 2013.

NZ Refining, which departs from the NZX 50 at the end of this week, rose 3 percent to $2.42, recovering from yesterday’s slide. Summerset Group fell 1.4 percent to $2.20and Metlifecare fell 1.6 percent to $3.05. The two rest home operators join the NZX 50 at the end of the week.

Hallenstein Glasson Holdings, the clothing retailer, rose 2 percent to $5.22.



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