NZ shares hit all-time high

06:20, Apr 04 2013

New Zealand shares rose to an all-time high today, defying widespread gloom in overseas markets as investors hunted for yield-bearing stocks.

The NZX 50 Index rose 17.32 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 4430.17.

The benchmark index, which includes dividend yields as well as capital gains in its overall ranking, has grown 27 per cent in the past 12 months.

Restaurant Brands led gainers, while OceanaGold fell.

Asian markets followed Wall Street down today as the greenback, global equities and commodities dropped across the board overnight.

Mint Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said New Zealand's dividend-bearing stocks had helped the local market buck the trend.

"Once again, it's people looking for a higher certainty of yield."

He was hesitant to say whether the rapidly ascending market was at risk of becoming overvalued, but said taking a breather would be helpful.

"The short answer is the market is looking reasonably fully valued in the near term," he said.

"But we're certainly coming off a very modest earnings growth base, so we are seeing some evidence of earnings beginning to improve."

Market stalwarts Telecom and Fletcher drove much of the gains on the benchmark bourse, with 13.8 million and 1.7 million shares changing hands respectively.

Retirement village companies and property stocks, which traditionally pay regular dividends, also performed strongly.

Summerset Group rose 1.5 per cent to $2.74, and fellow aged-care firm Metlifecare rose 1.2 per cent to $3.28.

Argosy Property rose 1 per cent to $1.01, as did Goodman Property Trust to $1.06.

Restaurant Brands led gainers, climbing 4 per cent to $2.83 despite posting an underwhelming full-year result.

The fast-food company reported a 4.1 per cent drop in full-year net profit of $16.2 million, with strong sales from its Pizza Hut stores failing to make up for slipping earnings at KFC and Starbucks.

However, company directors said they anticipated profit growth for the new financial year, and would provide further guidance at the annual general meeting on June 28.

OceanaGold led decliners on the benchmark index, down 6.6 per cent to $2.85. The operator of the Reefton and Macraes goldfields was under the pump after the price of gold tumbled overnight.

Hotel and casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group fell 1.42 per cent to $4.18.

Vector, the Auckland electricity and gas supplier, fell 1.4 per cent to $2.85.

Infrastructure investment firm Infratil fell 1.3 per cent to $2.36.

The Fonterra Shareholder's Fund fell 1.2 per cent to $7.38.

On the currency markets, the New Zealand dollar slipped slightly against the greenback. The kiwi recently traded at US84.08 cents, down from US84.16c at 8am today , while on the Trade Weighted Index of major trading partners' currencies it fell to 77.10 from 77.20.

On the crosses, the kiwi recently traded at 80.27 Australian cents, down from A80.41c this morning, and 78.10 Japanese yen, little changed from 78.12 yen earlier.

It traded at 65.44 euro cents, down slightly from 65.48 euro cents, and 55.56 pence, little changed from 55.55p.

The 90 day bank-bill-rate was 2.68 per cent, up by one basis point.