New Zealand shares rose, led by companies that stand to benefit from earthquake repairs such as Fletcher Building and Metro Performance Glass, while general insurer Tower was the biggest decliner.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 39.98 points, or 0.6 percent, to 6,737.76. Within the index, 19 stocks rose, 27 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $109 million.
The magnitude 7.5 quake just after midnight in the upper South Island cut roads, power and phone lines, disrupted rail and port services and left Wellington's CBD as a ghost town after Civil Defence warned people to stay at home while buildings were checked for damage. While the late quake was bigger than the Feb. 22, 2011, quake that devastated Christchurch, the most severe damage was limited to smaller centres.
Fletcher, the nation's biggest construction and building materials company, rose about 4 percent to $10.53. Metroglass rose about 1 percent to $2.13 and Steel & Tube Holdings, which sells steel building materials, rose 1.3 percent to $2.27. Tower dropped 7.1
percent to 79 cents while Tourism Holdings, which operates camper van hire and tourist activities, fell 2.4 percent to $3.20.
"So far it appears most of the damage is relatively superficial for most companies," said Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners. "There are definitely some companies which might be more affected, for example Tower is the biggest loser in the NZX 50 today, and Tourism Holdings is down - obviously there's the expectation that tourism might take a hit because of what international people see on the news."
"On the other side of the coin, Fletcher Building and Metroglass are up - they're the companies that will be involved in the rebuild," he said.
Among other gainers, SkyCity Entertainment Group rose 2.5 percent to $3.70, Spark NZ gained 2 percent to $3.37 and a2 Milk rose 1.9 percent to $2.13. Orion Health Group gained 1.8 percent to $2.85.
Mainfreight slipped 0.1 percent to $18.87 and Freightways dropped 0.8 percent to $6.38. Dean Bracewell, managing director of courier and information management group Freightways said courier deliveries were happening "largely as per normal" today. Transport and logistics group Mainfreight said rail services in the lower North Island and South Island have been suspended pending track inspections, while Inter-Island rail services have been cancelled until further notice.
Port of Tauranga fell 3.4 percent to $3.65 after port companies around the country said they expected disruptions from the quake ranging from cancelled Cook Strait ferry sailing to rail lines closed for checking.
Kiwi Property Group gained 0.7 percent to $1.405 after property companies said they were largely unscathed after the quake. Argosy Property rose 0.5 percent to $1.01 and Stride Property dropped 0.6 percent to $1.79.
Abano Healthcare Group rose 2.4 percent to $8.50 after the company said it has hired Grant Samuel to assess a partial takeover offer from dissident shareholders Anya and Peter Hutson and James Reeves, which the board says is not in the best interests of other investors based on its preliminary view.