New Zealand shares were buoyed by property stocks on news that Stride Property was maintaining its dividend despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 21.17 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 11,599.44. Within the index, 27 stocks fell, 17 rose, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was a lighter $100.1 million.
Global trading has been tentative in recent days as investors await the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's policy review and whether US policymakers will agree to further fiscal stimulus. Major US company results have also kept investors tentative.
Sam Trethewey, a portfolio manager at Milford Asset Management, said investors on the NZ market were also in a holding pattern as they looked towards the local earnings season.
"Investors are probably keeping a watchful eye on how the US companies are reporting and how that market is faring but, by and large, we are in a holding pattern until we start to get results in the second week of August," he said.
Investor confidence got a boost today as Stride Property told shareholders it will maintain its annual dividend at 9.91 cents a share for the current financial year, despite financial impacts of Covid-19.
The property sector has traditionally been considered fairly recession-proof but was hit hard during the pandemic as tenants called on force majeure clauses and negotiated reduced rents.
"We are seeing the property sector slowly recover from its Covid sell off," Trethewey said.
"More confidence has returned around balance sheets and dividend profiles of those companies and they have slowly recovered some of the lost ground."
Argosy Property - which yesterday also announced a first quarter dividend - rose 3.2 per cent to $1.28, leading the market higher.
Goodman Property Trust rose 1.9 per cent to $2.20, Kiwi Property Group gained 1.4 per cent at $1.055, Precinct Properties advanced 1.2 per cent to $1.72, Investore Property was up 1 per cent at $1.99 and Stride Property rose 1 per cent to $1.98.
Only Vital Healthcare Property Trust was weaker, dropping 0.2 per cent to $2.615. Other healthcare stocks gained: Ebos Group was up 0.5 per cent to $21.90 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 1.9 per cent to $35.51.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 2.3 per cent to $19.97 and Westpac Banking Corp rose 1.7 per cent to $19.07, gaining as Australia's regulator announced it would cap dividend pay-outs at 50 per cent of earnings, instead of barring them completely.
Restaurant Brands New Zealand fell 0.4 per cent to $12.15. Today it reported that the national lockdown had hit its second quarter sales, which fell 11 per cent. Year-to-date sales were down 3.2 per cent on the year at $383.4m.
Trethewey said trading was strong when stores were open and adjusted for store closures it was a solid result.
"Given what it could have been I think that is a reasonable outcome," he said.
Z Energy posted the day's biggest decline, falling 3.1 per cent to $2.86 as investors took profit on recent gains. The stock had climbed more than 7 per cent in the week prior to yesterday's closing price.
Ryman Healthcare fell 2 per cent to $13 and Summerset Group Holdings dropped 1.3 per cent to $7.86. Trethewey said that may also be profit taking given both stocks have been strong lately.
Outside of the top 50, Plexure Group rose 9.1 per cent to $1.32 after the company announced it was considering a shift onto the Australian Securities Exchange to have better access to capital.
Trethewey said this was continuing a disappointing trend, which was kicked off by Xero, of tech companies defecting across the Tasman.
"It is disappointing. Having these companies listed here would deepen our local market and encourage others to join. NZ investors are missing out on these investments," he said.
"Xero was our star player, it was like having Richie McCaw put on the Wallabies jersey all of a sudden."