Heavyweights in decline but retailers gain as stocks offer investors better returns than term deposits.

New Zealand shares were mixed in trading yesterday as declining heavyweight stocks, including Fletcher Building and Contact Energy, were offset by gains in retail stocks offering investors better returns than term deposits.

The NZX 50 index fell 15.91 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 3907.99.

Within the index, 24 stocks gained, 13 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $115.3 million.

Contact Energy was the biggest decliner, reversing the previous day's gains and falling 3.7 per cent to $5.27 from a 10-month high, while Fletcher Building decreased 2.4 per cent to $7.30, down from a 12-month high. Telecom fell 0.6 per cent to $2.36.


"They've had a pretty reasonable run, and you have to wonder whether it's just a bit of a pullback following recent strong performance," said Craig Brown, senior investment analyst at OnePath NZ.

Retailers gained, with the NZX Consumer index up 0.7 per cent to a four-and-a-half-year high 1792.14, led by fast-food operator Restaurant Brands, which climbed 2.2 per cent to $2.38. The Warehouse rose 1 per cent to $3.12, children's clothing chain Pumpkin Patch advanced 0.8 per cent to $1.20, Hallenstein Glasson increased 0.8 per cent to $4.99, and outdoor equipment chain Kathmandu gained 0.6 per cent to $1.83.

Brown said some retail stocks offer reasonable income streams to shareholders, and that may have lifted appetite for the better-performing companies. Warehouse has a gross dividend yield of 9.25 per cent, Restaurant Brands has 9.81 per cent and Hallenstein Glasson 9.09 per cent, according to NZX data.

"It's been a tough time for retailers which had been sold off - some quite aggressively," Brown said.

Government figures yesterday showed a slowdown in spending on electronic cards last month, particularly in consumable goods such as food and liquor.

Separately, the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research's quarterly survey of business opinion showed more improvements in the sector, especially in Auckland.

Shares in industrial rubber goods maker Skellerup fell 1.1 per cent to $1.75 a day before the stock sheds its dividend right. The stock rose to a record-high $1.77 on Monday, and is rated an average "outperform" based on three analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters with a median target price of $1.69.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting software firm, rose 0.6 per cent to $5.38 after the Wellington-based published its prospectus for a secondary listing on the ASX.

Governance software maker Diligent Board Member Services climbed 1.8 per cent to $3.92.