New Zealand shares rose amid optimism the economy will pick up pace this year, even as China changes down a gear.

Fletcher Building and Hallenstein Glasson Holdings paced the advance.

The NZX 50 Index rose 22.61 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 3471.91. Twenty-nine stocks rose, nine fell, 12 did not change. Turnover was $145 million.

Fletcher Building, the biggest company by market value, rose 1 per cent to $6.87, bringing its gain this year to 11 per cent. The company posted first-half earnings that missed estimates though investors are awaiting the benefits that will flow from Christchurch earthquake rebuilding.


"We have been focused on local economic performance rather than what is going on globally and that is reflected in how our market has performed," said Bryon Burke, head dealer at Craigs Investment Partners. "Fletcher Building is once again leading the index movement."

Clothing chain Hallenstein rose 2.9 per cent to $3.97, climbing back from a two-week low and leading gains among retailers.

Warehouse Group, the biggest retailer on the NZX 50, rose 0.4 per cent to $2.75. Pumpkin Patch, the children's clothing retailer, rose 2 per cent to $1.

"The retail angle continues with lower interest rates," Burke said. "Retail generally is good yield-paying securities rather than growth."

OceanaGold, operator of the Macraes goldfield, rose 4.3 per cent to $3.14, after giving a progress report on construction at the Didipio Project in northern Luzon, in the Philippines.

Finance company Heartland New Zealand rose 6.7 per cent to 48c.

Rakon, which makes components for navigation systems, rose 4.1 per cent to 51c. Freightways gained 2.1 per cent to $3.96.

Ebos Group, the medical and pet supplies company, was unchanged at $7.35 after Masthead, the investment vehicle of the Stewart family of Christchurch, disclosed that it had agreed to sell its 10.2 per cent holding for $7 a share, or about $37.2 million.

The private, off-market placement was through brokerage First NZ Capital, according to a statement from Masthead. It did not identify the buyers, saying only that it was to "various purchasers". Settlement will be on March 29, when Masthead's Mark Stewart will resign from the board.

Carpetmaker Cavalier fell 2.4 per cent to $2.07. Chorus, the network company spun off from Telecom, climbed 2 per cent to $3.54. Telecom rose 1.1 per cent to $2.395.