Market ends week taking a hit

The sharemarket took a short term hit as institutional investors sold off a range of shares in order to take up shares in Auckland International Airport that were offered by the NZ Superannuation Fund and Morrison & Co in a private placement.

The airport's share price fell 5.8 per cent to $2.77 as more than 113 million of its shares changed hands.

The NZX50 fell 42.46 points to 4196.74, but Hamilton Hindin Greene director Grant Williamson said the downward pressure created by the Auckland airport placement should now be out the way.

The reporting season got off to a bright start with positive comments about future prospects from Steel & Tube. That saw its shares jump 4.3 per cent to $2.65, making it the day's biggest gainer.

Michael Hill also made very positive comments, though its improved result was not quite up to investors' expectations. Its shares were down 1 cent at $1.22. The company was too specialised to be a good bellwether for the retail sector, as had been shown by their strong performance through the global financial crisis, Williamson said.

Hallensteins was up 2.4 per cent to $5.45 on a "nice earnings upgrade". Cavalier fell 2.7 per cent to $1.77 after a downbeat result. Williamson said it was regarded as a well-managed firm but one whose management was unable to do much about the tough trading conditions it faced.

The 90-day bank bill rate was unchanged at 2.71 per cent. The Kiwi consolidated yesterday's gains, with the Trade Weighted Index standing at 77.2, up from 76.84 yesterday.