All eyes on Fletcher Building

NIKO KLOETEN
Last updated 08:18 20/08/2014

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What you need to know on Wednesday morning, August 20.

- NZX50 up 43.093 points (0.85 per cent) to 5114.212

- NZ dollar at US84.15 cents, A90.49c, 86.61 yen, 50.66p, 63.22€c

- Brent crude oil at US$101.56 a barrel (down US4c)

- Spot gold at US$1294.60 an ounce

What's on today

- GlobalDairyTrade auction (overnight)

- Fletcher Building annual result

- Trade Me annual result

- Mighty River Power annual result

Stocks to watch

- Fletcher Building: All eyes will be on New Zealand's biggest listed company when it announces its annual result today. Earlier this year Craigs Investment Partners downgraded Fletcher Building stock from "buy" to a "hold" rating due to a sluggish Christchurch rebuild, especially in the residential sector. While the overall profit result will be important, investors will also be looking closely at how Fletcher is doing in Christchurch.

Top international news

- US housing starts surged to an eight-month high in July, suggesting the nation's housing market recovery was back on track after stalling in the second half of last year.

While the rebound points to sustained economic strength, other data on Tuesday showed inflation largely under wraps, which could give the Federal Reserve room to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy stance for a bit longer.

Groundbreaking for new housing jumped 15.7 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted 1.09-million unit annual pace, the highest level since November, the Commerce Department said. The gain snapped two straight months of declines and beat economists' expectations for a rise to only a 969,000-unit rate.

It was the latest sign the market was regaining its footing after being slammed by a run-up in interest rates last year. A shortage of properties for sale has also lifted prices, pushing housing out of the reach of many first-time buyers.

Separately, the Labour Department said its consumer price index edged up 0.1 per cent last month as declining energy costs partially offset increases in food and rents. The CPI had increased 0.3 per cent in June.

In the 12 months through July, the CPI increased 2.0 per cent after advancing 2.1 per cent in June.

Something else for your morning

- New Zealand's fuel and port costs are among the highest in the world, representatives of international cruise lines say.

Even though cruise passengers regularly applaud their experience of New Zealand, the high costs of operating were a challenge for cruise lines. Ports needed to adapt to keep the business, the representatives said.

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