Shares grind upwards on light volumes

06:00, Jan 21 2013

New Zealand shares ground upwards on reasonably light volumes today as investors sought exposure to residential construction activity.

Pumpkin Patch led the gainers while Oceanagold fell on a reasonable day of trading made lighter by Wellington Anniversary Day.

The NZX50 Index rose 21 points or 0.5 per cent, to 4,185.18. Thirty one stocks rose and 11 fell.

The kiwi recently traded at US83.54c, little changed from US83.69c at 8am this morning and matching its level against the greenback at 5pm on Friday.

Mint Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said trading in share market giants Fletcher Building and Telecom drove the market to a reasonable day of gains, despite many Kiwis remaining on holiday.

Optimism about improved residential construction activity in New Zealand and Australia helped boost stocks with exposure to property and construction, he said.


"People are looking to increase exposure to some of the more cyclical stocks that benefit from a modest but positive activity level in New Zealand and Australia,'' said Solly.

The children's clothing chain Pumpkin Patch Limited led gainers on the local bourse, up 3 per cent to $1.37, after being knocked about in trading last week.

Aged care and housing provider Metlifecare gained 2.2 per cent to close at $3.25, with construction materials supplier Steel and Tube Holdings, the commercial and industrial real estate investor Property for Industry Ltd and Fletcher Building, the country's biggest construction firm, following Pumpkin Patch and Metlifecare as the next biggest gainers.

OceanaGold Corp, the miner which operates the Macraes and Reefton goldfields, led the decliners, falling 1.15 per cent to close at $3.45, followed by Australian phone company Telstra Corp, which fell 0.88 per cent to $5.60.  

Trade Me, Ryman Healthcare and the recently established Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell. The trio pared gains made during a strong week last week, said Solly.