The New Zealand sharemarket maintained its cautious approach before the latest financial reporting season, falling for the fourth successive day this week.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index slipped under the 13,000 mark and finished down 99.07 points or 0.76 per cent at 12,992.14. It reached an intraday high of 13,141.05 points.
The index has so far fallen 1.75 per cent this week, as if shaken by the spectre of rising interest rates on the back of a rebounding economy and a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate.
There were 62 gainers and 72 decliners over the whole market on volume of 55.74 million share transactions worth $171.41 million.
The NZ dollar was slightly weaker at US71.95 against the American greenback, falling from US72.26c the day before.
The leading market cap stocks – this time including Meridian, Auckland International Airport, Chorus and Mainfreight – have been lately showing unexpected volatility and dragging the market down. Beneath them, there was an absence of major price swings among most stocks in the latest bout of trading.
Dan Stratful, investment adviser with Forsyth Barr, said the local market has been lagging behind others overseas, pulled down by a few heavy hitters in the index.
"Unemployment is at 4.9 per cent, our Covid numbers are under control and inflation is back at 1.4 per cent – everything is ticking along very nicely and I think we are on the path of regaining our 'rock star economy' status.
"This provides a good backdrop for companies to operate in and gives the international investor confidence in the New Zealand market. But it's going to be a challenge for the interest rate-sensitive companies if there is an eventual rise in rates, which affects the valuation of their shares," Stratful said.
Meridian , the second biggest stock on market capitalisation, fell 17c or 2.38 per cent to $6.97; Contact lost 15c or 1.82 per cent to $8.10; Auckland International Airport was down 19c or 2.57 per cent to $7.21 on trade worth $18.42m; a2 Milk declined 10c to $10.97; Chorus shed 33c or 3.79 per cent to $8.38; and Genesis was down 7c or 1.82 per cent to $3.78.
Transport and logistics operator Mainfreight continued its decline from a high of $69.89, falling $1.58 or 2.36 per cent to $65.41.
Another heavy hitter, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare , was up 24c to $33.94 on trade worth $15.98m; Summerset Group Holdings gained 8c to $12.40; Fletcher Building increased 3c to $6.48; and Port of Tauranga rose 6c to $7.41.
Wind farm specialist Tilt Renewables told the market it has received several enquiries to buy the company and has allowed due diligence so the parties can make binding offers. This follows a review by Infratil of its 65.5 per cent shareholding in Tilt, which operates eight wind farms in Australia and New Zealand. Tilt Renewables was up 9c to $6.37, while Infratil fell 10.5c to $7.345.
The Warehouse Group rose 6c or 1.93 per cent to $3.17 after announcing it is paying a fully-imputed special dividend of 5c a share because of improved trading, particularly over the Christmas period. The retailer confirmed its net profit for the half year will exceed $90m before accounting for the impact of repaying the wage subsidy.
Hallenstein Glasson had a strong day, rising 37c or 5.05 per cent to $7.70. Stratful said the retail sector is a shining example of the recovery in the economy, reflecting the strong spending by consumers who can't travel overseas.
Other movers were NZME , up 5c or 6.85 per cent to 78c; Cavalier increasing 2c or 5.56 per cent to 38c; Smartpay Holdings increasing 4c or 4.28 per cent to 97.5c; Steel & Tube moving 3c or 3.06 per cent to $1.01; and T&G Global up 7c or 2.41 per cent to $2.98.
Transport technology firm EROAD fell 34c or 7.1 per cent to $4.45; Z Energy was down 7c or 2.45 per cent to $2.79; and Marsden Maritime Holdings , owner of Northport near Whangarei, shed 13c or 2 per cent to $6.38.