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Current as of 30/03/17 07:00PM NZST

Key stock index slumps for second day

By Edwin Mitson

Energy company Mercury saw its falling shares lead the S&P/NZX 50 in a decline.
Energy company Mercury saw its falling shares lead the S&P/NZX 50 in a decline.

New Zealand's share slump continued for a second day, with Mercury and Auckland International Airport leading the index lower.

The S&P/NZX50 Index fell 30.52 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 7249.24. Within the index, 20 stocks fell, 24 rose and six were unchanged. Turnover was $146 million.

The index bounced early in the day, having dropped 2.5 per cent on Monday in response to Friday's Wall Street sell-off, but was back in the red by the close.

Asian markets were mixed in the afternoon's trading, with NZ shares again declining by more than Australia's S&P/ASX 200 which was down 0.1 per cent at 5.10pm.

"It's been a theme for quite some time that we've continually outperformed Australia," said David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr. "There have been some quite sharp corrections, bearing in mind that we've seen some prolific runs up as well. The market's had a very, very strong year but things can't always continue that way.

Some of the stocks selling [on Monday] were viewed by the locals as not being particularly cheap, hence they moved a long way before they found support."

Mercury was the worst performer, down 7.4 per cent, or 23c, to $2.90. It gave up rights to an 8.6c final dividend and a 4c special dividend today.

"That [dividend] speaks for half of it but not the other half," Price said. "What we've seen globally is a bit of a rotation out of utilities and safe stocks into stocks that are more cyclical."

Auckland International Airport fell 2.9 per cent to $6.815, Ryman Healthcare dropped 2.6 per cent to $9.34, and Vector was down 2.1 per cent to $3.20.

Argosy Property gave up rights to a 1.525c interim dividend and declined 1.5c to $1.14.

Comvita was the biggest gainer, up 5 per cent to $11.02. The stock has gained 25 per cent this year, having joined the S&P/NZX 50 Index in April.

Price said the natural health products company was "a story that a lot of people are heading towards at the moment".

Two of Monday's biggest decliners, Tower and Air NZ, gained today, with Tower up 2.4 per cent to $1.065 and Air NZ gaining 2.6 per cent to $1.985.

Nuplex, which was in the NZX50, delisted from the NZX and ASX today. Earlier this month it confirmed its takeover by Allnex Belgium had received antitrust clearance from the European Commission, paving the way for its transfer to the private-equity backed Belgian company to create one of the world's largest makers of coating resins.

- BusinessDesk

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