Ever since the New Zealand sharemarket rebounded from the low on March 23, it has, against all odds, remained very stoic in the debilitating Covid-19 environment.
After falling 30 per cent when Covid took hold, the S&P/NZX 50 Index moved from 8498 points to 10,778 by mid-April. From then, the index has hardly missed a beat, trading within the range of plus and minus 1 per cent. Monday's quiet trading was no exception.
The local index slipped 0.52 per cent to 11,666 points, with 16 shares in the top 50 gaining slightly and 29 falling. Trading value was a third lower than last Friday's close at $113 million on volume of 45m shares, compared with 64.15m at the end of last week.
Nigel Scott, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners, said the present market is more about stock picking than everything rising with the tide. "You have eight to 10 stocks with dividend yield – new money is not going towards stocks that have no dividend. It's been a real index play by the leading stocks.
"The phone has gone a bit quiet today and clients – who are looking for yield – are comfortable with their portfolio. Coming into August, investors will be looking at the company results (to the end of June). That will be critical," he said.
Market heavyweights a2 Milk was down 4c to $20.80, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was up 5c to $36.05, and Spark increased 1c to $4.94.
Transport operator Mainfreight, which last Friday reported record profit before abnormals of $156m on global sales of $3.1 billion, fell 10c or 0.21 per cent to $46.80, with only 529 share transactions worth $2m. But its share price is still at an all-time high. Ryman Healthcare was down 10c or 0.75 per cent on just 656 trades worth $2m.
Each day the market is feeding off company announcements made on the New Zealand Stock Exchange. Agribusiness innovator Scales Corporation lowered its guidance, saying its underlying net profit for the financial year ending December is likely to be towards the bottom of a $30-$36m range due to disruption in key markets resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Scales, New Zealand's biggest apple exporter, last year reported net profit of $36.4m. It slipped 32c or 6.10 per cent to $4.93 but there were only 289 trades valued at $1.5m.
Carpet manufacturer Cavalier came back to earth, falling 13c or 30.23 per cent to 30c after last week releasing its transformation plan to use all-wool and natural fibres and return to profitable growth from the 2023 financial year. Cavalier surged from 27c to 43c during the week.
Major banks ANZ and Westpac had falls, no doubt impacted by the Melbourne lockdown caused by the Covid resurgence. ANZ was down 93c or 4.77 per cent to $18.57 and Westpac fell 71c or 3.85 per cent to $17.75.
Among the day's biggest risers were Rakon, up 2c or 7 per cent to 30.5c; Allied Farmers increasing 4c or 6.67 per cent to 64c and EROAD, up 15c or 4.41 per cent to $3.55. Their gains were on light trading.