Xero leads local sharemarket higher

Jump in unemployment weakens kiwi dollar while Aussie rises on jobs improvement.

Shares of clothing chain Pumpkin Patch were among rising consumer stocks. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Shares of clothing chain Pumpkin Patch were among rising consumer stocks. Photo / Steven McNicholl

New Zealand shares rose, led by Xero and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, as the kiwi dollar weakened against its Australian counterpart and overseas investors were drawn to an economy that stands out in a weak global environment.

The NZX 50 index rose 12.15 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 3955.25. Within the index, 18 stocks rose, 19 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $99.7 million.

The kiwi dollar dropped to A78.45c, the lowest since mid-September after figures showed New Zealand's unemployment rate jumped while Australia added more jobs than expected. Stocks sold off in Europe and the US overnight following the US election outcome and downgrades to European economic growth.

"What we're seeing here is the New Zealand market remains firm in the light of a pretty weak global environment," said James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital.

The kiwi dollar's advance against the Australian dollar and the greenback is showing up in shares of exporters, he said.

Xero jumped 6.4 per cent to $5.80. The cloud-based accounting services company began trading on the ASX yesterday in a bid to draw more Australian investors.

F&P Healthcare, which makes medical equipment and gets more than 50 per cent of sales in US dollars, rose 0.8 per cent to $2.40.

Among smaller caps, AWF Group, the temporary worker company, rose 2.9 per cent to $2.46.

Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment chain, fell 4.5 per cent to $1.71, leading decliners after shedding its 7c a share final dividend.

Fletcher Building, which oversees the rebuild of Christchurch on behalf of the Government, rose 1.2 per cent to $7.34 as the weak jobs numbers stoked talk the Reserve Bank may be more willing to cut interest rates to help the economy.

Steel & Tube, which sells steel building products, fell 0.5 per cent to $2.18. The company is to re-enter the NZX 50 with the departure of F&P Appliances, now acquired by China's Haier.

Trade Me, the auction website, and Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing chain, were among rising consumer stocks. Trade Me gained 1.2 per cent to $4.07 and Pumpkin Patch rose 0.8 per cent to $1.25.

NZX, the stock market operator, was unchanged at $1.25 after naming Mint Asset Management analyst Amelia Wong as head of Cash Markets, effective December 10.

Contact Energy, the biggest power company on the index, rose 1.5 per cent to $5.36. Telecom was unchanged at $2.38.

- BusinessDesk

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