Oil-easing rumours boost index

Asian markets perk up on hint of end to glut.
Auckland International Airport rose 2.4 per cent to $7.30. Picture / Grant Bradley
Auckland International Airport rose 2.4 per cent to $7.30. Picture / Grant Bradley

New Zealand shares rose as global markets were encouraged by reports of a deal to ease the glut of crude oil. Orion Health Group, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Auckland International Airport led the index.

The S&P/NZX50 index gained 53 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7343.45. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 19 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $110.5 million.

Markets across Asia advanced following Wall Street's positive lead after reports that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has agreed to reduce its oil output to 32.5 million barrels a day from present production levels of about 33.24 million bpd.

"There's nothing confirmed, but people are looking for signs of stability because if there's stability they get clarity for the commodity-related sector," said Rickey Ward, New Zealand equity manager at JBWere. "Australia's market is up better than ours because they're more resource-orientated. It adds a level of comfort when the commodities sector shows signs of stability. The market appears to be trading on a degree of comfort at the moment, because we're trading at a premium multiple domestically."

Orion Health Group led the index, up 4.5 per cent to $3.50. It hit a six-month low of $3.29 on Wednesday, having fallen since its annual meeting last Thursday where chairman Andrew Ferrier told shareholders the strength of the kiwi is crimping revenue in local currency terms, meaning Orion will get less when sales are converted back into local currency.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 2.9 per cent to $10.10, Auckland International Airport gained 2.4 per cent to $7.30 and Mercury New Zealand lifted 1.8 per cent to $3.045. Ward said offshore-owned stocks got better attention during the day.

Genesis Energy was the worst performer, down 5.4 per cent, or 12c, to $2.10. It gave up rights to an 8.2 cent final dividend yesterday. Meridian Energy, which gave up rights to an 8.4c final dividend and a 2.44c special dividend, dropped 10.6c to $2.62.

Tower fell 2.1 per cent to 94c. The insurer has shed half its value in the past 12 months on signs prolonged exposure to Canterbury earthquake claims has sapped its ability to pay dividends.

The shares climbed after the Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported that the dual-listed company could be ripe for a takeover, possibly by Australia's Suncorp or Insurance Australia Group, but have since dropped back. The shares last traded at 94c in February 2004.

"It's still under pressure. It hovered up near $1 when the AFR article came out saying people may be circling it as an investment - no one's shown their hand, so people are starting to think they're not there, though I'm not sure that is the case," Ward said. "The share price is representing an element of frustration - it seems to be a company that just keeps having negative publicity. It almost feels like people are giving up on it a little bit."

Outside the main index, Intueri Education Group rose 20 per cent to 12c. The private education group's shares collapsed on Tuesday, slumping 80 per cent in response to a warning about Australian Government audits that threatened its viability. It's yet to recover to its pre-announcement price of 30c.

"It's continuing to recover prior losses. I read a note that people are investing in speculation so clearly the speculators are making money at the moment if that's the case," Ward said. "It's not surprising that the stock does re-rate, but whether that can be sustained is hard to tell. People want to take a bit of a gamble. Who knows where it will go."

Pumpkin Patch fell 8.9 per cent to 8.2c. The indebted childrenswear retailer reported wider annual losses of $15.5 million for the 2016 year, from $9.1 million a year earlier, as sales dropped 11 per cent.

- BusinessDesk

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