New Zealand shares gained on the first trading day for 2012, with Port of Tauranga rising to a record close after rival Ports of Auckland said it had lost business from Fonterra in the face of strikes.
The NZX 50 Index rose 13.40 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 3288.11. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 11 fell and nine were steady. Turnover was $64 million.
Shares gained on Wall St and in Europe overnight on Tuesday and equity markets gained in Asia yesterday after figures showed US manufacturing had its best month since June while Germany's unemployment rate was lower than forecast.
The more upbeat data stoked optimism the global economy will avoid recession even if Europe contracts.
Port of Tauranga rose 1.5 per cent to $10.10, its highest close to date. It reached $10.40 in intraday trading on December 7. Ports of Auckland said yesterday it stood to miss out on up to $100,000 a week in revenue once Fonterra Co-operative Group re-routed $27 million worth of weekly exports through Tauranga and Napier hubs instead of Auckland.
"The Port of Tauranga team have been working on this strategic move for a long time ... all New Zealanders benefit from improved activity across the wharf," said Shane Solly, portfolio manager at Mint Asset Management .
There were "thin volumes in general out there - not a lot of people active in the market", he said. Stock markets had responded to "a reasonable pickup in activity globally".
Carpet maker Cavalier led gainers, rising 8.8 per cent to $2.10, trimming its slide of nearly 50 per cent in the past six months.
Stocks that had been punished amid concern Europe's debt crisis would scuttle global growth were among the biggest gainers. Rakon, the maker of components for smartphones and navigation systems, rose 4.4 per cent to 47c. Nuplex, the specialty chemicals maker, rose 2.6 per cent to $2.35 and Fisher & Paykel Appliances, the whiteware manufacturer, rose 4.2 per cent to 37c.
Pyne Gould Corp rose 2.9 per cent to 35c. George Kerr's Australasian Equity Partners Fund has lifted its interest in the company to 48.4 per cent from 47.1 per cent held at December 22, moving closer to a controlling stake as part of his takeover offer. The offer is at 37c a share.
Restaurant Brands, the fast food retailer, fell 3.4 per cent to $2, the biggest decline on the NZX 50 yesterday. Telecom dropped 3.4 per cent to $2 but Fletcher Building rose 0.3 per cent to $6.16.