Shares rise on manufacturing data

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 18:38 14/02/2013

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New Zealand shares rose today, buoyed by encouraging manufacturing data that was driven by a pick-up in construction activity.

The seasonally-adjusted BNZ-BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) rose to 55.2 points, up almost five points from December, hitting its highest point since May 2012. A figure above 50 indicates that manufacturing is expanding.

The NZX50 responded by rising steadily through the day, closing up 17.8 points or 0.42 per cent at 4329.2.

Forsyth Barr broker David Price said Fletcher Building led the charge among the "heavyweights", gaining 9 cents or 1 per cent to close at $9.03. Pumpkin Patch jumped 5.1 per cent to $1.44 and Katmandu rose 3.1 per cent to $2.33.

Telecom was a weak link falling 2.2 per cent to $2.22 on a relatively high volume of 12.6 million shares - twice its normal volume.

Price did not believe problems with its outsourced Xtra email service were impacting the stock, though it was "bad press". Instead investors were probably reacting to the company losing out to Vodafone in a deal to supply the police with mobile technology, he said.

"It raised the question of whether Vodafone would pick up more lucrative government business in the wake of its takeover of TelstraClear."

The manufacturing data was positive. "Ironically, the currency strengthened on the back of it, which won't help manufacturers." The Trade Weighted Index rose to 76.84 from 76.65.

A longer term theme was the pick-up in property stocks which were now typically trading at more than 110 per cent of net tangible assets, versus about 94 per cent a year ago, as investors chased yield in the low interest-rate environment, Price said.

"Property companies are continuing to get a lot of money flowing in. We've seen Westpac drop its five-year fixed mortgage rate under 6 per cent. The banks are clearly flush with cash and can't give it to anyone and that is indicative of our client base. They have got lots of cash and they can't live on taking 3 per cent at the bank - it is a case of having to buy things with yields."

The 90-day bank bill rate rose to 2.71 per cent.

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