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Current as of 24/10/16 05:59AM NZST

Auckland Airport leads market down

By Edwin Mitson

Michael Hill gained 1.2 per cent to $1.75.
Michael Hill gained 1.2 per cent to $1.75.

New Zealand shares dropped for the fifth consecutive session to a near-three-month low, led down by Auckland International Airport, Ryman Healthcare and Chorus.

The S&P/NZX50 Index fell 50.89 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7116.93. Within the index, 34 stocks dropped, 12 rose and four were unchanged. Turnover was $109 million.

"The downtrend in the New Zealand market is all about the yield play, it's the perception of higher interest rates in the US that's shifted money away from our quasi-bond yielding stocks," said Daniel Metcalfe, senior investment adviser at OMF. "There's some profit-taking after what's been a very good 12 months for New Zealand equities."

Auckland International Airport was the worst performer on the index, down 3.3 per cent to $6.72, and has declined 21 per cent this year.

"There's broad-based selling in heavyweight New Zealand stocks," Metcalfe said. "The rise in the oil price has weighed on airlines, and I suppose you could read it's going to weigh on Auckland Airport as well with cost constraints coming through, but I don't think there's going to be a massive continued run in the oil price, I think the weakness in both Air New Zealand and Auckland Airport will be limited - you will see some people seizing this opportunity."

Ryman Healthcare dropped 2.5 per cent to $8.95 and Chorus fell 2.4 per cent to $3.67.

Trade Me declined 0.9 per cent to $5.33 - a two-month low. Founder Sam Morgan announced he intends to leave the board within the next year but will remain a shareholder.

Metcalfe said the stock's "fairly aggressive selldown" over the past week was attributable to competition in the form of Facebook's Marketplace, the social media giant's own online classifieds option.

Heartland Bank was the best performer, up 2 per cent to $1.53, while Tower gained 1.7 per cent to 92.5 cents and Meridian Energy rose 1.4 per cent to $2.625.

Outside the benchmark index, Michael Hill International gained 1.2 per cent to $1.75. The jewellery chain delivered 6.8 per cent sales growth in the three months to September 30 as it gears up for Christmas. Group sales from all stores rose to A$120.2m in the first quarter of Michael Hill's financial year, from A$112.5m in the same quarter in 2015.

Hellaby Holdings rose 0.3 per cent to $3.34. ASX-listed Bapcor's $322.5m takeover bid for the firm has delayed its plans to freshen up its boardroom, chairman Steven Smith told shareholders at its annual meeting in Auckland.

- BusinessDesk

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