MARKET CLOSE: NZ stocks weak; Fonterra units top $7

Dec. 13 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell as investors continued to take profits, foundation investors in Infratil reduced their holdings, and previously top 50 stocks prepared to leave the index.

The NZX 50 fell 20.53 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3974.72. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 11 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $147.5 million.

However, the newly tradable non-voting Fonterra Shareholders Fund units topped $7 for the first time, up 3.7 percent to $7.01 after listing at $5.50 on Nov. 30.

After a strong run-up, in which the NZX 50 has doubled gains on Australian and American benchmark indices, it appeared some investors were taking profits, said Shane Solly at Mint Asset Management, an investment fund manager.

In addition, food producer Goodman and New Zealand's only refinery, NZ Refining, were about to leave the NZX50 index and were down 4.7 percent and 2.5 percent respectively to 81 cents and $2.54 respectively.

Across the Tasman, there were notable gains in the stocks of the region's two largest newspaper publishers, Fairfax and APN News & Media.

Fairfax rose 11.3 percent in afternoon trading, at 54 Australian cents, an increase of 26.3 percent for the month, albeit still down 39.2 percent on the year as a whole.

APN, which publishes the New Zealand Herald, rose 7 percent in ASX trading to 30.5 Australian cents. While dual-listed, the share rarely trades on the NZX and was quoted today at 38 New Zealand cents.

"Media stocks have been savaged in the last year or so," said Solly. However, there was an increasing view that opportunities were emerging for investors, especially with increasing discussion and implementation of subscription paywalls.

On the local bourse, interests associated with Morrison family, Morrison & Co, and the firm's chief investment officer Lib Petagna sold 10 million shares in the Wellington-based infrastructure investor Infratil to institutions and high net worth investors.

Morrison & Co and the Morrison family didn’t disclose what price they sold at, but Petagna sold 1 million shares for $2.25 million, or $2.25 apiece. That’s a 4.3 percent discount to yesterday’s trading price. The shares closed down 3.8 percent at $2.26.

(BusinessDesk)

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