Leading stock Fisher and Paykel Healthcare again rescued the New Zealand sharemarket following a rout on Wall Street overnight and a slump across the Tasman.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 62.72 points or 0.51 per cent to 12,201.80 and there were 119 decliners across the whole market compared with just 23 gainers. Trading was steady with 46.64m million shares worth $188.03 million changing hands.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average in the United States plunged 943 points or 3.43 per cent to 26,519.95 with the alarming rise in Covid cases rattling investors. They were also disappointed that a US$2 trillion ($3t) economic stimulus package has been put off till after next week's election.
The Dow Jones index is now on track for its worst weekly drop since March. The S&P 500 Index fell 3.53 per cent to 3271.03 points and the Nasdaq Composite was down 3.73 per cent to 11,004.87. At 5.45 pm, the S&P/ASX 200 Index in Australia had fallen 1.55 per cent to 5964 points.
Matt Goodson, managing director of Salt Funds Management, said "compared with the falls we've witnessed in the US, the New Zealand market hung in well - with Fisher and Paykel up more than 2 per cent. New Zealand does tend to be a lower beta market."
Fisher and Paykel Healthcare actually rose $1.03 or 2.86 per cent to $36.99 on trade worth $43m, after climbing 5.2 per cent the day before. It has single-handedly stopped the market from having sharp falls in the past two days.
Goodson said Fisher and Paykel is the beneficiary of the rise in Covid cases and hospitalisation overseas through increased sales of its respiratory humidifier equipment. Analysts are expecting a strong financial result for the half year, to be announced on November 25.
The other market heavyweight a2 Milk was down 35c or 2.30 per cent to $14.86 on trade worth $13m.
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Skellerup Holdings surged 16c or 5.39 per cent to a new high of $3.13 after telling shareholders at its annual meeting that it expects to report a record net profit between $30m and $35m for the 2021 financial year – ahead of the past year's profit of $29.1m. Skellerup said "while we have uncertain global conditions ahead, the company is in robust shape and well placed to invest and grow sustainable earnings and shareholder returns."
Freightways also produced a strong trading update at its annual meeting and its share price rose 15c or 1.82 per cent to $8.40, closing in on its high of $8.77 achieved on December 23. Freightways told the shareholders that revenue increased 35 per cent to $211.7m for the first quarter of the 2021 financial year, compared with the previous corresponding period. Operating earnings (Ebitda) was up 49 per cent to $34.8m and net profit climbed 43 per cent to $19.2m.
Amongst the decliners were the energy stocks, Meridian down 10c to $5.29, Contact falling 5c to $7.45, Mercury losing 8c to $5.13, Genesis declining 7c or 2.19 per cent to $3.13, and Trustpower down 15c or 2.07 per cent to $7.10.
Mainfreight fell 11c to $53.50, Chorus decreased 16c to $8.34, Summerset Group Holdings was down 15c to $10.22, and Oceania Healthcare fell 5c or 3.62 per cent to $1.33 after having a strong run.
Air New Zealand announced the loss of 385 cabin crew jobs from December and its share price fell 5c or 3.42 per cent to $1.41. The airline is also winding up a furlough arrangement for 500 international cabin crew.
Auckland International Airport was down 12.5c or 1.74 per cent to $7.06 as the rising Covid cases offshore dampened hopes of international visitors arriving any time soon.