The share market had a better day today, with property and banking stocks lifting, but it was not enough to stop the index dipping into the red.
The Warehouse Group gave a last-minute trading update that its sales were down over the five-month trading period to January 2 compared to the prior year.
The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 closed down 0.10 per cent or 12.357 points on 12970.65 on light trading.
There were 72 gainers while 60 stocks declined across the main market. Total value traded was $113.997 million, with volume of 24,976,637.
Harbour Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly said it was a better day with more green but the market was still a bit hesitant.
"The volumes are quite light again and we are seeing still some big swings intraday in stocks and even in vanilla stocks like Meridian have moved almost 1.5 per cent type moves all through the day.
"There is definitely a bit of a holiday, liquidity is modest. It will be interesting to see what happens next week when a few more people start coming back to the market."
Solly said there was a slightly more measured response from the US, with comments from some of the US Federal Reserve governors talking down moves to increase the interest rate rapidly which had sent the market down in the previous day's trading.
In China there had been a default in one of the Chinese property trusts called Shimao. The difference between that and developer Evergrande was that the bondholders in the Evergrande were predominantly international investors while Shimao was largely domestic Chinese investors.
"Having said all that, the Chinese market has been relatively flat," Solly said.
"This is in line with the intent of the [Chinese] government to see the heat come out of the property sector. What it has done is create concerns about whether we see some further easing in policy settings in China."
Solly said in the New Zealand market AFT Pharmaceuticals had come out with an update confirming its profit guidance that was positive pushing its shares up 1.12 per cent or 5c to close on $4.51.
"There had been some concerns about whether they were able to make that."
The company had given the positive confirmation in a New Year letter to investors. AFT is still working through approval to get its Maxigesic product into the US market.
Retail giant The Warehouse Group said for the five months to January 2 its group sales were down 5.7 per cent or $88.8m to $1.4659 billion compared to the same period in FY21. Its gross profit margin was also down 55 basis points on last year but was up 132 basis points on FY20.
The company said a contributing factor was the sudden increase in online sales for this period.
"This has reduced gross profit margin through a lower margin product mix and higher freight costs associated with online sales, exacerbated by capacity constraints throughout New Zealand's delivery network."
Based on actual sales for the first five months The Warehouse Group said it expects adjusted net profit after tax for the first half of FY22 to exceed $40m - this compared to $111m in its 2021 half year and $46.2m in its 2020 half year. Shares in the company closed down 1.47 per cent or 6c on $4.01.
Top gainers included small stocks Geo, Paysauce, NZ Windfarms and Wellington Drive Technologies. Solly said NZ Windfarms had traded down from around 28c in July to around 22c for the last month or so to close up 1c on 22.5c.
Solly said the small stocks had had a good run of late with Wellington Drive Technologies stock price rising from 18c to 23c to trade at a high for the last five years. It closed up 1c on 23c.
In terms of the larger stocks there had been good demand for the power company shares with Mercury NZ up 3.41 per cent or 21c to close on $6.36 while Contact Energy shares rose 1.63 per cent or 13c to $8.13.
Investore Property was up 2.12 per cent or 4c to $1.93 while Stride Property was up 1.92 per cent or 4c to $2.12. Dual listed bank ANZ also rose 2.07 per cent or 61c to $30.12.
"Definitely the banks and the property stocks are having a better day today as well as the gentailers."
Technology stocks continued to be weaker with Vista International Group down 2.59 per cent or 6c $2.26 and Serko down 1.47 per cent or 1c to $6.70.
Infratil gave back gains it made earlier in the week with its shares falling 2.05 per cent or 17c to $8.11.