New Zealand shares were mixed, with trading still quiet. Spark New Zealand and A2 Milk Co fell while New Zealand Refining and Fonterra Shareholders Fund rose.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 6.01 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7063.59. Within the index, 21 stocks rose, 15 fell and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was $112.1 million.
Spark New Zealand was the worst performer on the index, down 3.4 per cent to $3.57.
"It had a reasonable day [Wednesday] but has been sold off ... most of the year it's been clipping above $10m traded each day but it's pretty light trading," said Peter McIntyre, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. "Because there's such good liquidity running through the stock, there's obviously been some institutional realignment. It looks like some are lightening their exposure ..."
Tegel Group Holdings dropped 4 cents to $1.36. It gave up rights to a 3.45 cent dividend yesterday. The share has traded below its listing price of $1.55 consistently since early November. Mercury New Zealand fell 1.5 per cent to $3.02.
A2 Milk dropped 0.9 per cent to $2.26. Its rival, ASX-listed Bellamy's Australia, slid another 17 per cent following Wednesday's slump when it cut its profit forecast for the second time, announced CEO Laura McBain's exit, and tweaked the terms of its supply contract with Fonterra.
"They're holding up really well compared to what we've seen from Bellamy's, they have provided the markets with some strong updates as to their own earnings particularly their channels distribution," McIntyre said
NZ Refining was the best performer, up 2.6 per cent to $2.72.
"Earlier in the year they made the announcement they'd purchased the balance of Independent Petroleum Testing Labs off BP Oil, and in November they said they had stronger refining margins coming through, so on a value basis they probably do represent reasonable value," McIntyre said.
Infratil gained 1.8 per cent to $2.80, Metro Performance Glass rose 1.6 per cent to $1.91 and Z Energy advanced 1.6 percent to $7.60.
Fonterra Shareholders Fund rose 1.3 per cent to $6.22. Milk collections by Fonterra Cooperative Group are continuing to track below the previous year, mainly due to lower production on the North Island. Dairy prices soared in the second half of 2016, but have since fallen back slightly.
"They pretty much confirmed what the market had suspected, that milk collections are down because farmers have been culling non-performing stock," McIntyre said. "That's been seen as good for GlobalDairyTrade auctions as if supply is low the price may increase and that may reflect into the margin or value-added side of their business. There's been disillusionment with Fonterra's share price for a while, but there's a number of brokers with positive recommendations on the stock."
Comvita advanced 0.3 per cent to $7.95. The manuka honey products company has sold its Medihoney brand to US partner Derma Sciences for about $19m and will reap a further $11m selling Derma shares in a takeover offer of the Nasdaq-listed firm.
"It's selling a brand, from a dollar point of view it's not hugely material, obviously they're trying to realign parts of their business. The market's in two minds whether this has been a good move or not," McIntyre said. "Whether they're getting full value is the $64 million question, more clarity will come in the next few weeks, I think."
Outside the benchmark, Hellaby Holdings rose 0.3 per cent to $3.55. ASX-listed Bapcor has increased its stake in Hellaby to 51.4 per cent as part of its takeover of the company.