Meridian Energy, continuing to test new highs, stood out as the New Zealand sharemarket settled into a calmer mode following an action-packed, record-setting November.
After trading in positive territory for most of the day, the S&P/NZX 50 Index slid late, closing down 1.22 points or 0.01 per cent to 12,728.69. The intraday high was 12,799.89 points. There were 77 gainers and 64 decliners over the whole market, and trading was solid with 90.04 million shares worth $191.75 million changing hands.
Jeremy Sullivan, investment adviser with Hamilton Hindin Greene, said "we had a very strong November with all-time highs all over the place and the markets can't keep going up in a straight line.
"The strong run has led to some profit-taking and the market is probably due a correction. With institutional investors going away for the holidays, we may see lower trading volumes in the lead-in to Christmas and this could push some stocks around," he said.
Meridian, the market's second biggest stock on capitalisation, is unperturbed. It is now trading at a record high, rising 9c to $6.53 on trade worth $17.2m, after reaching an intraday high of $6.60. Meridian has climbed from the March 23 low of $3.87. Fellow energy stocks Contact was up 6c to $7.92, and Vector increased 5c to $4.25.
Contact said its gas supplies from the offshore Pohokura and Maui fields for 2021 will be down by about a quarter, after the operator OMV said it is reducing the expected supply to Contact by 3.7 petajoules to 10.6 petajoules. Contact, like all generators, is moving to reduce its use of gas, but gas still made up 16 per cent of its supply in the year ending June.
Leading stock Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, which is one day up and the next day down for no apparent reason (apart from profit-taking), had another down day, falling 56c to $34.95.
The a2 Milk Company continued its slide, falling 19c to $14.02 on trade worth $13.5m, after reaching a high of $21.51 on July 30. Sullivan said a2 Milk still has issues with the daigou sales channel, and the company set some lofty expectations for the second half of the financial year. "It is a great company and is growing but at the moment there are some things it can't control."
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There were few big movements on this quiet day. Juggernaut Mainfreight gained 6c to $61.08; Freightways was up 5c to $9.35; Summerset Group Holdings increased 30c or 2.82 per cent to $10.92; Serko picked up 7c to $5.43; SkyCity Entertainment rose 5c to $3.11; and AFT Pharmaceuticals was up 9c or 1.95 per cent to $4.71.
Manukau honey producer Comvita and Heartland Group Holdings continued a rally, rising 6c or 1.81 per cent to $3.38, and 5c or 3.38 per cent to $1.53 respectively. Sullivan said easing the lockdown in Victoria has helped Heartland's reverse mortgages and consumer finance business in Australia.
Synlait Milk slipped 17c or 3.18 per cent to $5.17, and new listing Harmoney fell further, declining 9c or 2.72 per cent to $3.22.
Some of the property stocks had another good day – Kiwi Property up 1.5c to $1.23, Goodman Trust gaining 3c or 2.42 per cent to $2.445, and Stride up 1c to $2.23.
Pacific Edge, which has developed a non-invasive test for bladder cancer, climbed 5c or 7.14 per cent to 75c after broker Jarden put out a research note suggesting its share price could double to $1.40 within 12 months, based on strong prospects in the United States market.
NZX said its 2020 operating earnings (ebitda) is expected to be near the top of the guidance range of $30m-$33.5m, and its share price slipped1c to $1.84.