Investors sat back and took a watching brief on the next international developments as the New Zealand sharemarket traded flat after a volatile three days.
Wall Street took another dive overnight, but the S&P/NZX 50 Index held steady, closing ahead by 5.38 points or 0.04 per cent to 12,724.29, after reaching a morning low of 12,643.78.
There were 54 gainers and 71 decliners over the whole market on volume of 46 million share transactions worth $196.92 million.
Mark Lister, head of private wealth research with Craigs Investment Partners, said the market was just as interested in Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell's comments as the latest impact of the new omicron Covid variant.
"Powell is finally realising, and so he should, that inflation is not as temporary as the Fed thought and they might have to act more swiftly to remove economic stimulus. This opens the door to interest rates rising in the US earlier next year – and this has put the markets on the back foot," Lister said.
Moderna said it expects existing vaccines to be less effective against Omicron. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 650 points or 1.86 per cent to 34,483.72, S&P 500 was down 1.9 per cent to 4567, and Nasdaq Composite declined 1.55 per cent to 15,537.69.
With the local market having priced in official cash rate rises, the interest rate-sensitive stocks are finding new support.
"Some of the defensive (dividend) yield stocks, particularly energy and property, have been sold off more than they deserve over the past few months. They have become reasonable value and are still of interest to investors," Lister said.
Contact was up 10c to $7.95; Vector rose 14c or 3.63 per cent to $4; Genesis collected 8c or 2.74 per cent to $3; Trustpower gained 13c to $7.43; and Goodman Property Trust increased 4.4c or 18 per cent to $2.495.
Property for Industry gained 2c to $2.80 after telling the market it has settled the divestment of the Carlaw Park mixed-used property in Auckland.
Other income stocks Chorus was up 7c to $6.76; but Spark was down 10c or 2.17 per cent to $4.50 after gaining 5.63 per cent the day before.
Market leader Fisher and Paykel shed 38c to $32.95; and a2 Milk slipped under $6, falling 14c or 2.29 per cent to $5.97.
AMP fell 8c or 7.21 per cent to $1.03; DGL Group declined 14c or 5.47 per cent to $2.42; Gentrack was down 8c or 4.23 per cent to $1.81.
The leading banks were again soft, ANZ Banking Group falling 59c or 2.08 per cent to $27.76, and Westpac Banking Corporation down 45c or 2.04 per cent to $21.60. But Heartland Group Holdings was up 7c or 3.17 per cent to $2.28.
Infratil rose 22c or 2.8 per cent to $8.09; Briscoe Group was up 11c to $6.75; Restaurant Brands gained 60c or 4.12 per cent to $15.15; Port of Tauranga collected 16c or 2.39 per cent to $6.86; and Napier Port increased 7c or 2.28 per cent to $3.14.
Retirement village operators Arvida was up 5c or 2.59 per cent to $1.98, and Oceania Healthcare gained 4c or 3.05 per cent to $1.35. Millennium & Copthorne Hotels NZ collected 5c or 2.17 per cent to $2.35.
Synlait Milk rebounded 17c or 5.31 per cent to $3.37 after telling shareholders at its annual meeting it expects to return to robust profitability in the 2022 financial year.
NZME was up another 3c or 2.13 per cent to $1.44, having been at 87c on August 20. New listing TradeWindow gained 8c or 4.71 per cent to $1.78.
Accordant Group has appointed Simon Bennett as chair, replacing Ross Keenan, and its share price increased 5c or 2.78 per cent to $1.85.
The Carbon Fund, managed by Salt Funds Management, declined 4c or 1.89 per cent to $2.08 following the latest auction under the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme that saw carbon sell for a record $68 per unit.
EROAD has completed the purchase of Coretex, with full integration in 12-18 months, and EROAD's share price was unchanged at $4.99.
ArborGen Holdings, down 1.5c or 5.88 per cent to 24c, has completed the sale of its New Zealand and Australia seedlings business to ArborGen ANZ Partnership for $22.25m.
Medicinal cannabis companies Cannasouth and Rua Bioscience were down 0.005c and 1c to 37c and 39c respectively. Cannasouth is buying the other 50 per cent stake in its joint venture partner Cannasouth Cultivation for $3.54m.
Rua Bioscience is buying Zalm Therapeutics, which has leading Australian listed medical cannabis firm Cann Group as a key shareholder and partner. The purchase is through the issue of $10m worth of new Rua shares at 41c a share.