The New Zealand sharemarket, on Budget Day, once again proved resilient to the gyrations on Wall Street, which had its biggest single-day slide in nearly two years.
While leading United States indices tumbled more than 4 per cent, the S&P/NZX 50 Index finished down 51.34 points or 0.46 per cent to 11,206.93 after making a strong recovery during the afternoon as the Budget details unfolded. The index reached an intraday low of 11,070.38 points.
There were 100 decliners and 38 gainers across the main board on light trading of 44.59 million shares worth $112.87 million.
Mark Lister, head of private wealth research with Craigs Investment Partners, said New Zealand's defensive market held up well to the sharp sell-off on Wall Street.
"A fall of less than half per cent … I'd take that any day of the week. We are dominated by stable companies in utilities, healthcare and infrastructure rather than the high-growth and technology stocks, and we don't feel the brunt of the selling around the world.
"Maybe the Budget played a role with lots of money flying around. Whether it's a wise use of taxpayers' money, it does stimulate the economy," Lister said.
The Budget included a $1 billion cost of living support package.
After US retailer Target reported lower-than-expected first quarter earnings, following Walmart's slip the day before, the indices turned nasty. Nasdaq Composite fell 4.73 per cent to 11,418.15 points; S&P 500 declined 4.04 per cent to 3923.68; and Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.57 per cent to 31,490.07.
At home, utilities investor Infratil provided a bright light with a record annual result. Infratil increased 20c or 2.53 per cent to $8.10 after reporting a big increase in net profit to $1.23b on revenue of $1.88b, up 36.9 per cent, for the year ending March.
It was Infratil's biggest result since it started in 1994 and reflected the $1b profit from the sale of its stake in Tilt Renewables. Operating earnings (ebitdaf) were $513.9m and Infratil has provided guidance of $510m-$550m for the 2023 financial year. It is paying a final dividend of 12c a share on June 15.
Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was down 46c or 2.19 per cent to $20.59; Fletcher Building declined 11c or 1.86 per cent to $5.80; Freightways shed 20c or 1.82 per cent to $10.80; Restaurant Brands fell 40c or 3.36 per cent to $11.50; and The Warehouse Group was down 19c or 5.51per cent to $3.26.
Serko fell 35c or 7.78 per cent to $4.15, having reached a high of $8.32 in early September last year.
Vista Group was down 5c or 3.03 per cent to $1.60; Sky Network Television shed 12c or 4.8 per cent to $2.38; Steel & Tube declined 6c or 4.17 per cent to $1.40; Turners Automotive decreased 9c or 2.34 per cent to $3.76; and Eroad fell a further 8c or 3.11 per cent to $2.49, after starting the year at $5.
Among the few gainers, Ampol was up $1.22 or 3.28 per cent to $38.45; Scales Corporation collected 16c or 3.46 per cent to $4.79; Bremworth rose 4c or 8 per cent to 54c; and Tourism Holdings increased 12c or 4.49 per cent to $2.79.
Goodman Property Trust was up 5c or 2.4 per cent to $2.13 after reporting record annual net profit of $763.8m, up 17.7 per cent. Net tangible assets value increased 22.6 per cent to $2.606 a share.
Heartland Group Holdings, down 4c to $2.20, announced the appointment of Chris Flood as deputy group chief executive and Leanne Lazarus will be moving from Westpac Life to become the Heartland Bank chief executive from August 1.
Seeka fell 22c or 4.33 per cent to $4.86 after telling the market its SunGold kiwifruit crop was lower than expected. Seeka has packed 26 million trays, 8.2 per cent below its estimate, though it was ahead of the 17.9 million trays packed last year. The total New Zealand SunGold crop is estimated at 103.3 million trays, down 9.7 per cent on the forecast.
Sanford gained 1c to $4.35 after reporting a 55.5 per cent fall in net profit to $6.12m on revenue of $270.92m, up 16 per cent, for six months ending March. Operating earnings (ebit) improved 79.4 per cent to $19.2m and profit from the wildcatch division was up 108.4 per cent because of strong global demand for whitefish.
Chatham Rock Phosphate gained 2.5c or 7.14 per cent to 37.5c on news that it is now involved with two studies – one to scope a phosphate/fertiliser export facility at the Port of Townsville, and the other an evaluation by Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on the potential to extract rare earth elements from its Korella mine.
Chatham Rock's share price has climbed from 12.2c this year and has risen 152 per cent over the past 12 months.