Shares extend losses in quiet trade

The New Zealand sharemarket extended its losses in a muted morning trading session, dropping back to a two-week low following weak offshore leads.

PGG Wrightson led decliners, and Michael Hill rose.

The NZX 50 Index fell 11.9 points, or 0.3 per cent to 3,902.19 as at noon. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 13 rose and 15 were unchanged. The New Zealand dollar traded at US82.38c early this morning, down from US82.62c at 5pm on Friday. Fewer than 9 million shares changed hands in the first two hours of trade.

The local exchange followed leads from Wall Street’s big sell-off at the end of last week, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 1 per cent, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped back 0.94 per cent.

Across the Tasman the mood was also subdued ahead of tomorrow’s Reserve Bank of Australia interest rates announcement which is expected to bring a 25 basis point drop in the official interest rate to 3 per cent. The ASX 200 Index was mixed at the market open, up 0.05 per cent, and the broader All Ordinaries Index was flat.

Rural services company PGG Wrightson led decliners on the benchmark NZX index, down 2.9 per cent to 34c. Goodman Fielder, the Australian food ingredient maker, fell 2.8 per cent to 70c.

Xero fell 1.8 per cent to $5.40. The cloud accounting software firm advised this morning that it had been officially accepted to be dual-listed on the Australian stock exchange.

The country’s largest bank ANZ, which reported a record profit at the end of October, fell 0.9 per cent to $31.50. That put its share price exactly on par with rival dual-listed Aussie bank Westpac, which was down 0.2 per cent. Westpac Group turned in a 15 per cent lower full-year statutory profit of A$5.97 billion (NZ$7.49b), although its 5 per cent increase in cash earnings beat analysts’ expectations.

The Warehouse Group turned around a small loss at the open to trade flat at $3.10. The country’s biggest listed retailer posted a first quarter sales update of $377.3 million this morning, up 1.9 per cent on the same period last year.

Shares in Auckland International Airport, the country’s busiest gateway, also remained unchanged at $2.64 after the appointment of Adrian Littlewood as chief executive.

Michael Hill led gainers, up 2.6 per cent to $1.20. The jeweller uploaded a copy of a presentation made to investors, which showed net profit was up 5.8 per cent in the year to June.

Rubber goods and milking equipment manufacturer Skellerup Holdings rose 2.5 per cent to $1.63. Kathmandu rose 1.7 per cent to $1.77. The outdoor clothing and equipment retailer is rated “buy” by a Reuters consensus poll of six analysts.

The stockmarket operator NZX rose 0.8 per cent to $1.24 after announcing a dividend of 1.25 cents per share. This morning it also announced the departure of Rowan Macrae, its head of corporate office.

Sky Network TV rose 0.6 per cent to $5.13, recovering from last week's slide when the Todd family sold out of its 11 per cent stake. Listed real estate investor Goodman Property Trust rose 0.5 per cent to $1.07.