A surging Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, making respiratory devices for global supply, drove the New Zealand sharemarket higher as Covid-19, with its Delta and Omicron variants, again takes hold around the world.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index had a strong afternoon turnaround and closed at 12,766.45, up 48.5 points or 0.38 per cent, after hitting an intraday low of 12,688.58.
There were 56 gainers and 82 decliners across the whole market on light volume of 30.45 million share transactions worth $116.75 million, with many investors already in holiday mode.
Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare rose 93c or 2.97 per cent to $32.20 to make up most of the day's gain.
Shane Solly, portfolio manager with Harbour Asset Management, said Fisher and Paykel is a hedge for people observing and worrying about the re-emergence of Delta in Europe and the rapid spread of Omicron around the world.
"Fisher and Paykel's respiratory products have done an amazing job and the company is a true Covid pandemic beneficiary," he said.
Solly said holiday-time is starting to creep into the market – "there are a lot more out of office messages with brokers and clients."
Sanford climbed 11c or 2.31 per cent to $4.88 after holding its 117th annual meeting and telling shareholders that a recovery is underway, with last quarter revenue and volumes exceeding the same period last year. The seafood company was confident it will show a consistent trend when the first quarter performance is reviewed in February.
The NZ dollar weakened further to US67.21c against the American greenback (at 5.45pm NZ time) – its lowest point in 11 months and this helps exporters like Fisher and Paykel and Sanford. The dollar was at US72c at the start of last month.
Auckland International Airport was up 12c to $7.59; Spark gained 5c to $4.54; Contact Energy increased 5c to $7.78; Genesis collected 5c to $2.86; Trustpower rose 12c to $7.28; and AFT Pharmaceuticals collected 10c or 2.38 per cent to $4.30.
Napier Port recovered 5c to $3.09. At its annual meeting last week, the port company told shareholders that its main cargo log exports would be flat in the 2022 financial years but its operating earnings are expected to grow 10 per cent.
Eftpos payments provider Smartpay Holdings was the day's biggest gainer, rising 3.5c or 4.86 per cent to 75.5c as the Christmas shopping is in full swing and the swipe cards are flashing. Briscoe Group was up 6c to $6.81, and Kathmandu Holdings was down 4c or 2.65 per cent to $1.47.
Fletcher Building fell 16c or 2.21 per cent to $7.09; Mainfreight dropped 71c to $90.17; Chorus was down 8c to $7.10; Ryman Healthcare declined 19c to $12.30; DGL Group shed 9c or 3.01 per cent to $2.90; and Scales Corporation decreased 11c or 1.98 per cent to $5.45.
SkyCity Entertainment declined 7c or 2.27 per cent to $3.01; Sky Network Television decreased 5c or 1.89 per cent to $2.60; Vista Group fell 5c or 2.3 per cent to $2.12 as cinemas closed again in Europe; and Air New Zealand was down 4c or 2.61 per cent to $1.49.
Scott Technology fell 15c or 4.29 per cent to $3.35; Gentrack was down 5c or 2.7 per cent to $1.80; Bremworth decreased 4c or 5.88 per cent to 64; Third Age Health Services shed 6c or 2.1 per cent to $2.80; and Winton Land which listed last Friday declined 15c or 3.88 per cent to $3.72.
Among the property companies Investore declined 4c or 2.05 per cent to $1.91; and Goodman Property Trust was up 4c to $2.62.
Westpac Banking Corporation has completed the sale of its wholesale vehicle dealer loan book, with $1 billion in receivables, to Angle Auto Finance. Westpac's share price was down 15c to $22.25, and ANZ Banking Group fell 48c to $28.91.
Publisher and broadcaster NZME told the market that procedural conditions for the BusinessDesk purchase have been satisfied and the transaction is expected to be completed in mid-January. NZME's share price was down 2c to $1.43.
Insurer Tower was unchanged at 71.5c. Tower earlier told the market it has been given court approval to take its $30.4m return of capital proposal to shareholders at a special meeting in February. Shareholders would have one of every 10 shares cancelled and be paid 72c per shares.