The New Zealand sharemarket held firm and posted a near half per cent gain as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a phased end to Covid restrictions in Auckland, though it remains in alert level 3.
Ardern promised a three-step transition plan including the return of early childhood education and small bubbles being able to mix outdoors. But she gave no actual timeframe for all the transition.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index recovered from a morning fall and closed up 58.12 points or 0.44 per cent to 13,337.27, after reaching an intraday low of 13,279.15.
There were 87 gainers and 62 decliners over the whole market of 184 stocks, and trading was light with 60.78 million shares worth $116.37 million changing hands.
Matt Goodson, managing director of Salt Funds Management, said it was a very modest relaxation to the Covid restrictions but nice for family members to meet up outside, and reopening child care.
He said the local market was very quiet, with a public holiday and little trading in Australia except for Victoria and Western Australia. "Our market did show some volatility and drifted off its high."
All eyes will be on the Reserve Bank's latest monetary policy statement this Wednesday, when it is expected to increase the official cash rate (OCR) by 25 basis points, from 0.25 per cent.
Goodson said it would be quite a shock if the bank didn't lift the OCR – that's what the market has implicitly priced in.
Infratil rose 15c or 1.85 per cent to $8.24 after telling the market it is creating a national diagnostic imaging business by joining with Pacific Radiology Group to form a partnership with Auckland Radiology Group, the largest private provider in the region. Infratil is contributing $30-$60m to the venture and will own at least 50.1 per cent.
Auckland International Airport increased 9.5c to $7.90 after announcing the appointment of Air New Zealand chief operating officer Carrie Hurihanghanui as its new chief executive, replacing Adrian Littlewood. She is the airport's first female chief executive in its 55-year history. Air New Zealand was up 4.5c or 2.74 per cent to $1.69.
Global marketer a2 Milk increased 10c to $6.70 – continuing a steady rise that could see it remain in the MSCI Global index.
SkyCity Entertainment was up 7c or 2.17 per cent to $3.29 after telling the market it has closed its Hamilton casino while parts of the Waikato are in Alert Level 3. Another re-opening stock Tourism Holdings increased 8c or 3.02 per cent to $2.73.
The banks were strong. ANZ Banking Group increased 65c or 2.27 per cent to $29.34, and Westpac Banking Corporation was up 52c or 1.96 per cent to $27.10.
Meridian firmed 6c to $4.99; Ryman Healthcare was up 24c to $15.25; Chorus gained 6.5c to $6.79; Delegat Group increased 21c to $14.66; Spark picked up 7c to $4.795; Fletcher Building collected 8c to $7.21; and PGG Wrightson rose 14c or 3.66 per cent to $3.97.
NZ King Salmon Investments continued its improvement, rising 6c or 4.14 per to $1.51; Restaurant Brands picked up 25c to $15.77; AMP rose 6c or 5.71 per cent to $1.11; Michael Hill International increased 2c or 2.22 per cent to 92c; and DGL Group was up 10c or 3.39 per cent to $3.05.
Sky Network Television rose 6c or 3.14 per cent to $1.97, Goodman Property Trust gained 5.5c or 2.27 per cent to $2.48; and Refining NZ, which is transitioning to a fuel import terminal, climbed 4c or 4.6 per cent to 91c.
Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was down 14c to $31.58; Contact Energy declined 9c to $8.36; Ebos Group shed 34c to $35.66; Pacific Edge decreased 4c to $2.67; Just Life Group fell 7c or 8.33 per cent to 77c; Enprise Group slipped 6c or 3 per cent to $1.94; and Solution Dynamics was down 10c or 3.45 per cent to $2;.80.
Plexure Group gained 2c or 3.28 per cent to 63c after completing the A$120m ($125m) purchase of Australian Task Retail and its global subsidiaries. Task has recently signed up SkyStadium in Wellington and Bakers Delight Australian bakeries for its transaction platform.
The Warehouse Group has appointed Sarah Kerarney, formerly general manager e-commerce, as its new chief digital officer, and its share price gained 1c to $4.11.