Buyers were again active as the New Zealand sharemarket took a lead from positive offshore bourses to post more than one per cent gain – representing a rise of nearly two per cent in two trading days.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index hit all-time highs this week, the London FTSE 100 Index was up 0.9 per cent overnight, the Hong Kong and China market were ahead, and the Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 0.89 per cent to 6900 points at 5.45pm (NZ time).
A confident S&P/NZX 50 Index climbed 145.01 points or 1.16 per cent to 12,632.60. There were 95 gainers and 42 decliners over the whole market, with 53 million shares worth $202.31 million changing hands.
Dan Stratful, investment adviser with Forsyth Barr, said everything is going up. The local market is rebounding from the sell-off in February and early March and investor confidence is returning.
"Once we get the Contact and Meridian Energy selling by the exchange traded funds (Etfs) out of the way, then that's another hurdle removed. The arm wrestle between the Etfs and other investors is coming to a close, with Friday next week being the rebalancing date for the Global Clean Energy Index.
"The arm wrestle, that has been bugging the market, feels like the buyers are taking control and you could see a rally and less volatility in Contact and Meridian," said Stratful.
The leading renewable energy stocks held their own for the second day running, following sharp falls on Tuesday. Contact gained 10c to $7.04 and Meridian increased 7c to $5.44. Mercury was also up 12c or 1.88 per cent to $6.49, Vector rose 8c or 2.01 per cent to $4.06; while Genesis fell 5.5c to $3.34.
The energy stocks seemed unmoved by Minister Megan Woods' comment that wholesale electricity prices may be too high.
Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare continues to lead the way, rising $1.18 or 3.64 per cent to $33.60, having risen more than 7 per cent over the last two trading days. Fisher and Paykel sat at $27.34 on March 8.
Mainfreight was up 71c to $68.40; Ebos Group increased 45c to $30.10; Spark rose 5c to $4.495; Port of Tauranga collected 8c to $7.60; and a2 Milk continued to recover, gaining 33c or 3.86 per cent to $8.89.
Stratful said there comes a time when stocks like Fisher and Paykel and a2 Milk – which has more than halved in value - have fallen too far and buyers become interested in them again.
Re-opening stocks SkyCity Entertainment and Tourism Holdings had strong days, rising 9c or 2.65 per cent to $3.49, and 7c or 2.63 per cent to $2.73 respectively.
Three investment trusts featured – City of London, investing in shares listed on the London Stock Exchange, increased 25c or 3.27 per cent to $7.90; F&C Investment gained 30c or 1.89 per cent to $16.20; and The Bankers rose 15c or 6.38 per cent to $2.50.
ANZ Banking Group was up 38c to $31.16, and Westpac Banking Corporation increased 47c or 1.75 per cent to $27.36. Stratful said the banks will benefit from the higher interest rate environment by improving their net interest margin between what they borrow and lend out for.
Other gainers were Freightways up 5c to $11.30; AMP gaining 5c or 3.71 per cent to $1.40; Marsden Maritime Holdings increasing 12c or 1.97 per cent to $6.22; and NZME picking up 2c or 2.47 per cent to 83c.
Automation and robotics provider Scott Technology surged 11c or 5.26 per cent to $2.20 after reporting a solid six-month result ending February. Scott, which has projects in Europe, United States, China and Australasia, turned around a previous corresponding period loss of $13.67m to a net profit of $4.71 on revenue of $104.48m, up 5.5 per cent. It is paying an interim dividend of 2c a share on May 10.
Decliners included Ryman Healthcare, down 20c to $15.50; Hallenstein Glasson falling 6c to $7.30; The Warehouse Group decreasing 9c or 2.48 per cent to $3.54; Seeka declining 10c or 1.95 per cent to $5.04; and Scales Corporation down 14c or 3.05 per cent to $4.45.
Hospitality group Savor rose 2c or 9.76 per cent to 22.5c after announcing a boardroom shuffle and the completion of buying three Hipgroup venues, Amano, Ortolana and The Store in Auckland. Directors David Poole, Sheena Henderson and Rich Frank have stood down, replaced by Ryan Davis and Louise Alexander. Chairman Geoff Ross is stepping aside at the end of May.