Renewed concerns about US-China relations took the shine off what had been a buoyant New Zealand sharemarket, the S&P/NZX50 index ending with a slight gain on light volume.
The index closed 24.64 points, or 0.2 per cent, higher at 12,656.02 on turnover of 55m shares, worth $199 million.
The prospect of a possible sale by Infratil of its controlling stake in Tilt Renewables helped drive the index to a session high of 12,745.83 before growing fears about international trade curbed investors' enthusiasm.
"The market has had a very long run and people are just a bit wary about another blowout in Sino-US relations," Harbour Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said.
"On the other side, people are just watching what is happening with Covid-19 vaccines and what that means for portfolios going into the New Year," he said.
"People are thinking, before the liquidity stops in a week or two, about how they want to position themselves."
Despite the current trade tensions, data out today showed China's exports rose at the fastest pace since February 2018 in November, helped by strong global demand.
Exports over the month rose 21.1 per cent from a year earlier, customs data showed.
News of Infratil's plan to put its stake in NZX-listed wind farm company, Tilt, under review drove both stocks sharply higher - Tilt finished at $4.55, up 63c or 16 per cent, while and Infratil firmed 14c (2.4 per cent) at $5.94.
At the closing price, Infratil's 65.5 per cent stake in Tilt would be worth $1.12 billion.
Solly said a sale would allow Infratil, which in June raised $300m through a placement and share purchase plan, to plough more money into its CDC data centre and Vodafone investments.
Infratil said it had recently received a number of enquiries in relation to its Tilt shareholding.
"Given strong demand for high quality renewables platforms globally, Infratil considers it is prudent to assess alternatives for its Tilt shareholding, including divestment of its position," it said. The review is scheduled to be concluded within six months.
Mercury Energy, which has a 20 per cent stake in Tilt, gained 7c to close at $6.47. The gentailer said there no arrangement between itself and Infratil in relation to the review.
Solly said a theme of rotation was playing its way out as post-Covid optimism grew.
"New Zealand has been a relative Covid-19 winner - our defensive stocks and growth stocks have held up reasonably well," Solly said.
Now it was a matter or investors rotating out of those "winning" stocks into the those that fared poorly during the crisis, such as Auckland Airport, which rose 27c to $7.91.
Among the defensive stocks, Contact Energy dropped 15c to close at $7.87, while one of the market's big growth stocks, a2 Milk, finished 12c lower at $14.06.
Harbour Asset's Solly said a2 Milk - which is based in Sydney - could also be feeling the pressure of concerns about worsening relations between Canberra and Beijing.
Dairy company Synlait finished 15c higher at $5.46 after several board members announced that they had lifted their individual holdings through the recent share purchase plan, at $5.10 a share, helping to buoy investor confidence.
Uncertainty as to how Fisher and Paykel Healthcare would fare once Covid-19 is under control continued to overhang the stock, which finished down 35c at $31.95.