The New Zealand sharemarket made a reasonable gain, but with very few developments to work from it wasn't a time for investors to get too excited.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 65.44 points or 0.56 per cent to 11,812.73 on solid trade of 48.98 million shares worth $220.45 million. There were 83 gainers and 43 decliners over the whole market.
Across the Tasman the Australian market was having a strong day – with the S&P/ASX 200 up 1.68 per cent to 5913.8 points at 5.45pm – but the New Zealand bourse failed to take the bait.
Mark Lister, head of private wealth research with Craigs Investment Partners, said the local market was in a waiting game. "There's no major news flowing, the Reserve Bank is not reporting back till November, and we have a general election coming up.
"It's no man's land and we are at the mercy of what happens in the United States. The economic data is going well but there has been a push-back in their markets. People think Joe Biden will become President and with it comes higher taxes and other changes.
"There's a good chance their election result will be contested and Congress is struggling to get agreement on the next tranche of economic support," Lister said.
The NZX's leading stock Fisher and Paykel Healthcare made up a lot of the index's gain. Fisher and Paykel rebounded with a rise of 77c or 2.31 per cent to $34.04, making up about 20 per cent of the trading with $46.18m worth of shares changing hands.
After experiencing three days of big falls, a2 Milk steadied a little and was down 15c to $15.19 on trade worth $19.7m. Synlait Milk continued to recover, rising 10c to $5.58.
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Ryman Healthcare, up 31c or 2.20 per cent to $14.39, and Oceania Healthcare, gaining 4c or 3.51 per cent to $1.18, had another good day.
Lister said the Metlifecare shareholders are meeting Friday and the vote on the $1.27 billion takeover by Swedish private equity company EQT is expected to go through. "That's another company we wave goodbye to on the market, and people see Oceania as a value stock and a natural place to reinvest their money. And the retirement village operators are being pushed along by the strong housing market."
The property stocks, which provide more-than-useful dividend yields, are also having a good time. Goodman Property was up 4c to $2.39, and Kiwi Property gained 3.5c or 3.30 per cent to $1.095. Asset Plus completed the retail entitlement offer in its $60.2m capital raising, and its share price remained unchanged at 31c.
Other gainers were Mainfreight, up 11c to $46.13; Contact Energy, gaining 8c to $6.73; Genesis, climbing 6.5c to $3; and Freightways moving 7c to $7.82.
Lister said Freightways has been a laggard this year. "We had the pandemic stocks rising and now that restrictions are being lifted Freightways is a company that benefits from the reopening of trade."
The day's biggest mover was Just Life Group, climbing 6c or 8 per cent to 81c, after announcing it has bought The Cylinder Guy, a nationwide hot water cylinder installation and service business.
AWF Madison fell 8c or 5.33 per cent to $1.42 after telling shareholders at the virtual annual meeting that tougher trading conditions have created an uncertain financial outlook for some of its divisions. AWF, which started as Allied Workforce in 1988, is next month changing its name to Accordant.