New Zealand shares rose in quiet trading following the general election as investors await the formation of a government, led by A2 Milk Co and SkyCity Entertainment Group.

The S&P/NZX50 gained 54.99 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7,869.77. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 11 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $88 million.

Preliminary results show New Zealand First party leader Winston Peters in a powerful position as all parties fell short of the necessary 61 seats to secure a parliamentary majority. National won 58 seats while Labour has 45, the Green Party has seven, and New Zealand First has nine, according to the Electoral Commission. That result, however, could shift as 384,072 special votes - 15 per cent of the total cast - remain to be counted. Both National and the Labour-Green bloc will now attempt to woo Peters to form a government.

"It's been very similar leading into it, the reality is all the stuff we had written about the election outcome - that you wouldn't have a result on the night, that Winston would be the kingmaker - has come to fruition," said David Price, broker at Forsyth Barr. "It's not any surprise whatsoever. You've still got 15 per cent of the total vote to be counted, it's just a holding pattern until then."

Advertisement

A2 Milk led the index, rising 3 per cent to $6.17. The stock has soared 181 per cent this year, making it the best performer on the index, and benefitted today from a weaker kiwi dollar, Price said.

SkyCity rose 3 per cent to $3.80, Fletcher Building gained 2.7 per cent to $8 and New Zealand Refining rose 2 per cent to $2.52.

Fonterra Shareholders Fund units gained 1.6 per cent to $6.20. Fonterra Cooperative Group's full year results saw gross margin drop about 4 percentage points as the dairy company paid more for milk, while rising prices offset a decline in volumes. The changing mix didn't alter Fonterra's forecast payout.

Z Energy rose 1.8 per cent to $7.53. The company announced the first parcel of jet fuel will be pumped to Auckland International Airport later today now the refinery to Auckland pipeline is back up and running and it does not expect to change its full-year guidance after the disruption. Auckland Airport shares gained 1.2 per cent to $6.49.

Air New Zealand, which has also said it doesn't expect annual earnings to be impacted by the fuel disruption, dropped 0.3 per cent to $3.27.

Chorus was the worst performer after shedding its rights to a 12.5 cents per share final dividend, down 4.2 per cent, or 17 cents, to $3.88.

Sky Network Television fell 1.1 per cent to $2.67 and Ryman Healthcare dropped 0.8 per cent to $9.13.

Outside the benchmark index, Abano Healthcare dipped 0.2 per cent to $9.25. Chief executive Richard Keys told shareholders at today's annual meeting that the healthcare investor has completed three acquisitions in the first quarter, which are expected to generate $5.5m of annual gross revenue. Same-store sales were mixed in the quarter.