New Zealand shares rose ahead of the US presidential election, led higher by A2 Milk Co, Comvita, and Orion Health Group, while Trustpower fell.

The S&P/NZX50 Index advanced 22.08 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 6,894.35. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 16 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $154 million.

"We started with a hiss and a roar, picking up where we left off yesterday, but things have fizzled out a bit as the day has gone on - Australia was up pretty solidly and now it's in the red so it's been a theme across the whole region," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "While people are a little more comfortable than they were last week about which way the US election will go, over the next 24 hours I don't think anyone's willing to bet the farm on it just yet, there's still an element of cautiousness."

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, known as Wall Street's fear gauge, dropped 16.9 per cent overnight to 18.71, its biggest fall since June this year, having risen to a five-month high at its previous trade on Nov. 4. The results from the US presidential election will start coming in tomorrow afternoon local time.

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A2 Milk led the index, up 4.6 per cent to $2.06. The milk marketer said first quarter sales met expectations at $112.5 million with revenue driven by growth in infant formula and milk.

Sales of fresh milk in Australia and New Zealand were up 7 per cent from a year earlier, and chief executive Geoffrey Babidge said there had been "continued and consistent growth" in consumer demand for its A2 Platinum infant formula, despite research reports suggesting demand would be volatile.

Comvita rose 4.4 per cent to $9.50, Tegel Group gained 3.4 per cent to $1.52, and New Zealand Refining Co advanced 3.4 per cent to $2.46.

Orion Health Group improved 1.6 per cent to $3.11. The company announced this morning it has signed an agreement with an unnamed Canadian province for software which combines patients' primary care information with their electronic health records,

"Some of the stocks getting support are the bigger companies which have been sold off heavily over the last several weeks - Meridian, Auckland Airport, Xero, Summerset, Spark - some of those fell pretty heavily, so maybe they're up because there are a few bargain hunters around," Lister said.

Xero gained 1.5 per cent to $18, Auckland International Airport rose 1.5 per cent to $6.72, and Spark New Zealand was up 1.4 per cent to $3.57.

Trustpower was the worst performer on the index, down 2.3 per cent to $4.70, while Sky Network Television dropped 1.8 per cent to $4.26 and Stride Property fell 1.6 per cent to $1.86.

Outside the benchmark index, NZME dropped 24 per cent to 50 cents. The shares sank following the Commerce Commission's early view that a merger with Fairfax New Zealand would concentrate too much power under one umbrella, irrespective of the financial gains.

"It's a bit of a surprise to some the Commerce Commission is leaning so heavily against it," Lister said. "There's still some hope, but it wasn't very encouraging so looks difficult from here. The market would've been factoring in some element of additional growth and synergies from a merger, and that's why you're seeing it come off so heavily."

(BusinessDesk)

-BUSINESSDESK