MIDDAY UPDATE: NZ shares fall as US fiscal cliff dominates

By Paul McBeth

Dec. 31 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand shares fell in early trading of the last day of 2012 as the few traders still at their desks watched the inability of US politicians to cut a deal to prevent legislation that will send the world's biggest economy back into recession.

The NZX 50 index fell 10.57 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4070.32 at midday, led by outdoor equipment retailer Kathmandu, which fell 2 percent to $1.96. Morning turnover was light at $12.9 million. The kiwi dollar rose to 82.07 cents at midday from 81.94 cents at 8.30am.

The looming stalemate between Republican and Democrat senators and Congress representatives over the US$600 billion fiscal cliff of tax increases and spending cuts kept investors downbeat on the open of the local market. Both the Senate and House of Representatives are sitting on a Sunday in Washington DC, the first time both houses have done so since 2000.

Democrat senators rejected a plan put up by Republicans, and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has sought an audience with Vice-President Joe Biden to try and bridge the impasse, according to Bloomberg reports.

If a deal can't be brokered the legislation will be enacted from Jan. 1, though legislators will still have the ability to overturn the law.

Publishers top the business gong list

New Zealand publishers unexpectedly dominated business leaders in New Year awards list, with children's book publisher Wendy Pye and Otago Daily Times owner Julian Smith being respectively named as dame companion and knight companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Dame Wendy and Sir Julian were joined by other business leaders Mark Solomon, who leads Ngai Tahu, and billionaire-cum-philanthropist Owen Glenn.

Other New Zealanders awarded the top honour were broadcaster Paul Holmes, politician Bob Harvey, Olympian Mark Todd and Justices Judith Potter and Mark O'Regan.



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