The New Zealand sharemarket remained stoic in the face of big falls on Wall Street and to a lesser extent in Australia, with the rampant technology stocks again getting hit.
The three leading United States indices suffered 2 per cent and more falls, but the S&P/NZX 50 Index held up with a 0.13 per cent or 14.73 points decline to 11,689.89. There were 55 gainers and 82 decliners over the whole market which attracted reasonable trading of 46.48 million shares worth $167.77 million.
At 5.45pm, the S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 49.2 points or 0.83 per cent to 5874.7, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average had a 525 points plunge, with Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet/Google and other tech stocks falling more than 3 per cent.
Shane Solly, portfolio manager with Harbour Asset Management, said the US tech stocks have dominated the rally and the latest falls were a reminder that they don't have limitless growth.
"The local market held up very well as we don't have the sectors that have been kicked around like technology. The thing we have learned over the past few months is for investors to be patient and back the good businesses which do come through eventually."
Certainly that applied to solid businesses like Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, up 50c to $33.10; Mainfreight climbing 65c to $46.80; Skellerup Holdings gaining 11c or 3.86 per cent to $2.96; and Freightways increasing 10c to $7.71.
A re-energised Pushpay Holdings climbed 34c or 4.15 per cent to $8.54 as more brokers gave them the thumbs up with upgrades.
Solly said Pushpay has made some good developments, and churches in United States are looking to connect with members online and through mobile phones because of the Covid crisis. The number of churches moving to new technology has increased from 45 per cent to 75-80 per cent.
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Online travel provider Serko is also having a recovery, up 16c or 3.63 per cent to $4.57. Solly said the resumption of domestic travel in Australia with the Victorian border opening up will benefit Serko.
Auckland International Airport pulled back 10c to $7.04; Chorus was again down, this time 22c or 2.56 per cent to $8.365 on profit-taking; a2 Milk slipped 11c to $18.15; and Contact Energy fell 13c or 2.05 per cent to $6.22, probably affected by Mercury's slightly lower guidance announcement.
Mercury Energy has reduced its operating earnings (ebitdaf) forecast for the 2021 financial year from $515m to $505m, saying it expects a 200 GWh fall in full-year hydro generation to 3700 GWh because of dry weather conditions in the Taupo catchment. Mercury's share price slipped 3c to $4.75. Solly said the Mercury downgrade was within the forecasts of the analysts, ''so good on them."
Overnight, Wall Street had a plunge in the final hour of trading because of increased fears about rising Covid cases in the United States and Europe, and the lack of a further US economic stimulus package. The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 525.5 points or 1.92 per cent to 26,763.13, down 9.4 per cent from its record close in February; the SD&P 500 Index was down 2.37 per cent to 3236.92; and the Nasdaq Composite fell 3.02 per cent to 10,632.99, down 11.8 per cent from its September record.
Electric car maker Tesla ran out of power, falling 10.34 per cent to US$380.36 ($581.72), Apple was down 4.19 per cent to US$107.12, Salesforce lost 4.76 per cent to US$235.99), Alphabet which owns Google declined 3.45 per cent to US$1409.39, and Microsoft fell 3.29 per cent to US$200.59.
Johnson & Johnson rose slightly to US$144.44 after announcing the start of a 60,000-person clinical trial of its single-dose Covid-19 vaccine on three continents, making the drugmaker the fourth experimental vaccine candidate to enter final-stage testing in the United States.