A lacklustre New Zealand sharemarket cooled its heels on a light trading day waiting for direction from overseas – though there was renewed interest in a2 Milk.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index closed at 11,018.62, up 20.7 points or 0.19 per cent, after reaching an intraday low of 10,997.23.
There were 77 gainers and 57 decliners over the whole market with 23.57 million shares worth $107.72 million changing hands.
Jeremy Sullivan, investment adviser with Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the local market was directionless "but we are not going down, that's a good thing, and there was some bargain hunting in a2 Milk."
He said the market was in a classic bear trap. "Everyone knows what's going on with inflation and interest rates and are waiting to see whether things calm down.
"It could be three to six months before we start seeing inflation cooling and central banks not having to raise interest rates so fast. But when that happens markets can turn around very quickly. It's a brave man who picks the bottom."
Sullivan said the sanctions were being felt by Russia, which defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
Russia has been barred from using the global Swift banking system and could not settle its latest bond payments in US dollars even though it is making 450 million euros a day from oil and gas sales.
The crude oil price crept up to US$109.5 a barrel, and the NZ dollar weakened to US62.89c against the American greenback, falling from a day's high of US63.12c.
The Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index was having another positive day, up 0.59 per cent to 6745.7 points at 6pm NZ time. The leading US indices were down slightly overnight following their strong rallies during the past week.
At home, a2 Milk was up 11c or 2.24 per cent to $5.01 and Synlait increased 4c to $3.15. But there were few big moves amongst the leading stocks.
The energy stocks were active. Contact increased 15c or 2.05 per cent to $7.48; Manawa rose 17c or 2.89 per cent to $6.05; Mercury was up 11c or 1.93 per cent to $5.80; Genesis gained 4.5c to $2.745; and Vector was down 12c or 2;.82 per cent to $4.13.
Auckland International Airport was up 8c to $7.36; Fletcher Building gained 4c to $5.17; Mainfreight collected $1.20 to $71; Summerset Group Holdings improved 14c to $9.86; and Skellerup Holdings increased 5c to $5.15.
Transtasman fuel supplier Ampol rose 84c or 2.2 per cent to $39.10 after receiving Overseas Investment Office approval to sell Gull New Zealand to Australian Allegro Funds for $509m. Gull has a five-year supply agreement with Ampol, which recently bought Z Energy.
Other gainers were NZME up 5c or 4.13 per cent to $1.26; Barramundi fund (investing in Australian shares) rising 4c or 5.33 per cent to 79c; The Colonial Motor Company improving 22c or 2.37 per cent to $9.51; Steel & Tube collecting 4c or 3.31 per cent to $1.25; and Metro Performance Glass up 1.5c or 6.25 per cent to 25.5c.
Ventia Services Group has gained an 18-month extension of its asset maintenance contract with the New South Wales Land and Housing Corporation, worth $185m. Ventia's share price was unchanged at $2.55.
Port of Tauranga was down 17c or 2.72 per cent to $6.09; Restaurant Brands fell 46c or 4.18 per cent to $10.54; Scales Corporation shed 12c or 2.61 per cent to $4.48; Pacific Edge decreased 3c or 4.17 per cent to 69c; and Tourism Holdings shed 10c or 4.1 per cent to $2.34.
Other decliners were Spark decreasing 6c to $4.80; Freightways down 35c or 3.66 per cent to $9.22; Eroad falling 10c or 6.21 per cent to $1.51; Sanford shedding 7c to $4.16; and Accordant Group losing 6c or 3.31 per cent to $1.75.
Online personal lender Harmoney, down 5c or 5.26 per cent to 90c, has organised a $215m facility with one of Australia's largest banks, after growing its loan book to $627m.
Medicinal cannabis companies are making moves. Greenfern Industries, up 0.007c or 5.34 per cent to 13.8c, has received an initial two-year order worth more than $1.6m.
Cannasouth, up 1c or 2.7 per cent to 38c, had earlier signed a three-year manufacturing agreement with main customer Harker Herbal Products.
Rua Bioscience, unchanged at 30.5c, has had its dried flower approved by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, and will be marketing its first product in the German medicinal cannabis market by the end of the year through Nimbus Health GmbH.
Matt Adams, a director since late 2019, has been appointed chairman of Good Spirits Hospitality, and its share price was unchanged at 4.1c.