Wall Street pushed to new record highs on the day new United States president Joe Biden was inaugurated – and the New Zealand sharemarket caught the celebration spirit by rising more than half a per cent.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index was up 85.74 points or 0.66 per cent to 13,112.19 on solid trading of 69.6 million shares worth $201.65 million – with the leading energy stocks making a recovery. There were 100 gainers and just 45 decliners over the whole market of 184 stocks.
Matt Goodson, managing director of Salt Funds Management, said the local market took a positive lead from the developments in the US, driven by the reality that fiscal expansion would be greater under Biden, and that Covid hospitalisations have peaked as the vaccine is rolled out.
Goodson said the markets so far were ignoring Biden's tax policy of increasing the corporate rate (from 21-28 per cent) and cracking down on schemes to minimise tax obligations. But there would be more open trade policy which was good news for the world and particularly New Zealand. "So there's a bit of a mixed bag out there."
The NZ dollar strengthened again against the US greenback, trading between a low of US71.69c and a high of 72.10c during the day.
The gentailers bounced back, with Contact Energy rising 35c or 4.13 per cent to $8.83; Meridian gaining 32c or 4.35 per cent to $7.68; Mercury up 19c or 2.8 per cent to $6.97; Genesis increasing 3c to $3.80; and Trustpower up 6c to $8.51. Wind farm specialist Tilt Renewables climbed 24c or 4.22 per cent to $5.93.
In the battle of the biggest market stock, Meridian resumed the top spot with capitalisation of $19.68 billion after Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, on $19.16b, fell 43c to $33.26.
There was unusually high activity in Pushpay Holdings with 21.8m of its shares worth $34.7m traded, suggesting an investor may be establishing a shareholding position in the software firm. Pushpay's share price rose 8c or 5.26 per cent to $1.60.
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Amongst the blue chips, Freightways gained 7c to $10.55; Ryman Healthcare increased 21c to $15.46; Summerset Group Holdings rose 22c or 1.82 per cent to $12.32; Port of Tauranga was up 15c to $7.65; and Skellerup Holdings climbed 14c or 3.69 per cent to $3.93.
Mainfreight was down 79c to $67.30; a2 Milk declined 10c to $10.91; Chorus shed 15.5c or 1.88 per cent to $8.10 Tourism Holdings lost 6c or 2.56 per cent to $2.40; and Harmoney fell 10c or 3.33 per cent to $2.90 after a strong rise the day before on a positive trading result.
Property stocks had another good day. Stride Property gained 4c or 1.72 per cent to $2.36; Precinct Properties increased 4.5c or 2.68 per cent to $1.725; and Kiwi Property was up 2c to $1.27.
AFT Pharmaceuticals climbed 11c or 2.16 per cent to $5.21; Seeka gained 5c to $4.90; NZME was up 2c or 2.82 per cent to 73c; and Smartpay Holdings rose 5.5c or 5.61 per cent to $1.035.
All the leading indices in the US reached new highs overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.83 per cent to 31,188.38, the S&P 500 Index rose 1.39 per cent to 3851.85, and the technology-driven Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.97 per cent to 13,457.25.
The technology stocks are roaring back. Amazon was up 4.6 per cent to US$142.62 ($198.49), Google rose 5.4 per cent to US$1880.07, Apple increased 3.3 per cent to US$132.03, Microsoft gained 3.65 per cent to US$224.34, Salesforce.com moved ahead 3.08 per cent to US$223.44, and Netflix reached a new high of US$586.34, up 16.85 per cent.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma reappeared in public after criticising Chinese regulators and its share price rose 8.52 per cent to US$265.