The New Zealand sharemarket shut up shop for Christmas on another positive tone, with transport and logistics operator Mainfreight leading the way.
Trading was shortened to a half day, and the S&P/NZX 50 Index closed at a new high of 13,037.94, up 17.73 points or 0.14 per cent, after reaching an intraday high of 13,101.16.
Trading was light with 17.7 million shares worth $63.56 million changing hands, and there were 81 gainers and 53 decliners over the whole market of 184 stocks. The market now has a four-day break, with trading resuming on Tuesday.
Mark Lister, head of private wealth research with Craigs Investment Partners, said the market lost some steam into the close – it was not unusual to see that sort of volatility.
"Some people, particularly the fund managers, are away for the holiday break never to be seen again until January, and you have more private investors being active in the market.
"Even though the local market is up more modestly than the Dow Jones and ASX, we have had two very strong days this week and the market is still comfortably higher heading into Christmas. There are still plenty of tailwinds for the local market," Lister said.
Mainfreight, put on another 93c or 1.43 per cent to $65.93, and Lister said the stock still has growth opportunities. "The business is strong in New Zealand and Australia and its chief executive Don Braid will tell you there's still plenty of opportunity in Europe, Asia and the United States." Mainfreight's share price has increased 54.74 per cent over the past 12 months.
After its dramatic 20 per cent plunge last Friday, a2 Milk continued its recovery, rising 17c to $12.06 and making up more than a third of that fall. The international marketer is strengthening its distribution network into China by announcing it has made a binding agreement to buy 75 per cent of Mataura Valley Milk for $268.5m in cash.
Mataura's other 25 per cent shareholder is China Animal Husbandry Group, a subsidiary of China National Agriculture Development Group Co and the parent company of a2 Milk's distribution partner China State Farm.
The latest move by a2 Milk means a shift away from its present supplier Synlait, 20 per cent owned by a2 Milk, but Synlait seemed undaunted, increasing 7c to $5.01.
Napier Port made a late burst, rising 14c or 4.18 per cent to $3.49; Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was up 10c to $34; Spark gained 6c to $4.795; and the retirement village operators continued their strong runs – Ryman Healthcare up 24c to $15.24, Summerset Group Holdings increasing 10c to $12.10, and Arvida Group climbing 6c or 3.53 per cent to $1.76.
Ebos Group shed 15c to $28.20, Infratil was down 14c or 1.86 to $7.40, Fletcher Building decreased 9c to $5.71, and Pacific Edge fell 4c or 3.36 per cent to $1.15 as profit-taking took over.
Freightways reached a new high, rising 5c to $10.10; Tilt Renewables was up 15c or 2.48 per cent to $6.20; Air New Zealand climbed 2.5c to $1.785; and carpet maker Cavalier, finding new life, increased 1.5c or 3.8 per cent to 41c.
Personal lender Harmoney, having an unhappy time since listing at $3.74, surged 22c or 7.46 per cent to $3.17. Foley Wines celebrated Christmas with a 5c or 2.7 per cent rise to $1.90.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.38 per cent to 30,129.83, the S&P 500 Index increased 0.75 per cent to 3690.01, and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.29 per cent to 12,771.11.
At 2.30pm Thursday, the NZ dollar had increased to 71.06c against the American greenback.