Fletcher gains but Chorus drops as sharemarket crawls up

New Zealand shares were mixed, with Chorus sinking as index-weighted institutions sold the phone network company as it fell out of key benchmarks following its split from Telecom, while Fletcher Building extended its gains from a two-year low.

The NZX-50 Index rose 5.08 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 3282.39. Within the index, 33 stocks fell, 13 rose and five were unchanged. Turnover was $83.8 million, with about two-thirds of that made up by Telecom and Fletcher.

Chorus, which was spun off from Telecom with a bonus issue last week, sank 4.4 per cent to $3.06, still higher than its $2.94 listing price but well down from the high of $3.40 it reached on November 25. It was the most heavily traded stock on the bourse, with 23.5 million shares changing hands. Telecom fell 0.5 per cent to $1.98.

Tower fell 5.4 per cent to $1.40 on modest volume of 38,551 shares. Tower has expressed interest in the Christchurch-based insurer AMI, which had to seek a government bailout after the Christchurch earthquakes drained its reserves.

Fletcher Building gained about 2 per cent to $6.19, having bottomed out at $5.80 on November 24, the lowest since April 2009, reflecting the tepid state of home building demand in Australia and New Zealand.

ANZ gained 0.4 per cent to $26.90 and Westpac rose 0.9 per cent to $27.90 after Standard & Poor's lowered the credit ratings on Australia's major banks after changing its criteria for country risk ratings.

Steel & Tube Holdings fell 4.3 per cent to $2.01 and Air New Zealand fell 1.6 per cent to 95.5c.

Allied Farmers climbed 17 per cent to 3.5c after the rural and financial services company said it had completed a joint venture for its livestock business. Allied owns 70 per cent of the newly formed NZ Farmers Livestock, with the other 30 per cent owned by companies formed by existing livestock agents.

- BusinessDesk

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