Two blue chip stocks Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and EBOS Group put up strong resistance to a further retreat by the New Zealand sharemarket. By the end of the day there was a glimmer of hope that trading would improve.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell into correction territory during the morning, reaching 12,080.47 points, but recovered during the afternoon to close at 12,191.06, down 156.94 points or 1.27 per cent.
The index has now fallen more than 6.6 per cent this year and is just above the correction level of 10 per cent from the index's all-time high of 13,558.19 points set on January 8 last year.
There were 131 decliners and only 22 gainers in the broad-based market sell-off as the Covid Omicron variant began spreading in the community and the country entered the red light status, creating renewed business uncertainty.
Volumes were again low with 30.54 million shares worth $112.2 million changing hands.
Mark Lister, head of private wealth research with Craigs Investment Partners, said the local market was always going to fall after a weak Friday night on Wall Street, and it's a healthy correction.
"We needed it to provide buying opportunities and put the market on a sound footing where valuations are more reflective of the outlook," he said.
"It's always disconcerting to see share prices fall but markets don't go upwards forever. There are weaknesses like this one along the way and people have to be prepared for that. Investing in riskier equities is for the long term, and at some stage the market will find its bottom.
"We are beholden to what happens on the United States markets, and a real focal point is the Federal Reserve meeting later this week. The US futures were pointing to a positive night on Wall Street, and that's one reason why our market recovered," Lister said.
Market leaders Fisher and Paykel Healthcare gained $1.01 or 3.544 per cent to $30.36, and EBOS Group increased 35c to $38.50 after reaching an intraday high of $39.76.
They were joined in the resistance group by Vector increasing 2c to $3.90; and Marlin Global fund picking up 7c or 5.34 per cent to $1.38.
The rest was a sea of red. The retirement village stocks were pummelled – Ryman Healthcare fell 36c or 3.23 per cent to $10.80; Summerset Group Holdings declined 35c or 2.8 per cent to $12.15; Arvida was down 5c or 2.76 per cent to $1.762; and Oceania Healthcare also shed 5c or 4.17 per cent to $1.15.
Most of the property companies didn't fare much better. Argosy was down 3c or 1.96 per cent to $1.50; Property for Industry decreased 6.5c or 2.24 per cent to $2.835; Stride shed 6c or 2.94 per cent to $1.98; and Vital Healthcare Property Trust was down 5c to $3.12.
Freightways fell 41c or 3.25 per cent to $12.19; Fletcher Building was down 25c or 3.54 per cent to $6.82; Infratil declined 15c or 1.92 per cent to $7.67; Port of Tauranga fell 16c or 2.48 per cent to $6.30; and Pushpay Holdings was down 3c or 2.52 per cent to $1.16.
Among the travel and leisure stocks, Serko slumped 35c or 5.98 per cent to $5.50; Air New Zealand declined 4.5c or 3.08 per cent to $1.415; and Vista Group shed 5c or 2.25 per cent to $2.17.
Amongst the energy stocks, Mercury fell 13c or 2.19 per cent to $5.80; Contact was down 15c or 1.94 per cent to $7.60; Meridian declined 11c or 2.37 per cent to $4.53; and Genesis decreased 7c or 2.49 per cent to $2.74.
Retailers Briscoe Group was down 33c or 5.04 per cent to $6.22; Hallenstein Glasson fell 29c or 4.26 per cent to $6.51; and Bremworth shed 3c or 4.84 per cent to 59c.
Mainfreight dropped $1.63 or 1.87 per cent to $85.50; Fonterra Shareholders' Fund was down 18c or 4.76 per cent to $3.60; and Marsden Maritime Holdings fell 12c or 1.87 per cent to 6.30.
Skellerup Holdings was down 23c or 3.86 per cent to $5.73; PGG Wrightson lost 32c or 5.61 per cent to $5.38; Vulcan Steel shed another 26c or 2.65 per cent to $9.54; Rakon fell a further 15c or 8.47 per cent to $1.62; Pacific Edge declined 4c or 3.28 per cent to $1.18; and Sky Network Television decreased 8c or 3.23 per cent to $2.40.
Synlait Milk began the day with a new chairman John Penno and chief executive Grant Watson, who spent 10 years with Fonterra, and Synlait's share price was down 4c to $3.44.