Low interest rates mean shares are ‘still in vogue’.

It has been a big week for the sharemarket as the reporting season continues and stocks make big price moves.

On Wednesday the NZX 50 jumped 2.1 per cent in its biggest one-day gain since August 2011.

Xero's announcement that it had raised $147 million from two North American investors, which pushed its shares up 26 per cent to a five-month high, was a major contributor to Wednesday's index gain.

Other NZX 50 stocks - including Air New Zealand (7.2 per cent), Ebos (5.2 per cent) and A2 Milk (7.8 per cent) - also rose sharply.


It was a turnaround from last week, when the NZX 50 fell every day except Friday as major components such as Fletcher Building and Contact Energy posted disappointing results.

Craigs Investment Partners' head of private wealth research, Mark Lister, says the reporting season has probably resulted in more earnings downgrades than upgrades.

But Wednesday's rally swiftly reversed last week's losses and by yesterday afternoon the NZX 50 had gained almost 5 per cent since trading began for the year on January 5.

"I guess that's still a function of the positive sentiment globally," Lister said. "With low interest rates shares are still in vogue."

The NZX 50 closed up 19.39 points yesterday at a record 5861.68.

Meanwhile, Harbour Asset Management portfolio manager Shane Solly says the stream of capital raisings being unveiled is related to the market rally.

As well as Xero, capital raisings were also announced by AWF Group Precinct Property and Energy Mad this week.

Insider focus


It was a bit of a bummer for Xero that news of its mega cash injection was overshadowed by market suggestions of insider trading.

The 21 per cent jump in the stock last week, which prompted a "please explain" notice from sharemarket operator NZX, raises serious questions.

High profile market players were this week saying an information leak almost certainly occurred.

But Xero's continuing ability to raise huge amounts of foreign capital demonstrates the high levels of confidence discerning overseas institutions have in the cloud accounting software developer's growth trajectory.

The latest round came from US-based Accel Partners and Matrix Capital Management. It follows the $180 million Xero raised from high-profile investors including Facebook billionaire Peter Thiel and Matrix in late 2013.

Chief executive Rod Drury says the insider trading suggestions are a "non-story" and he'd be surprised if sharemarket operator NZX's review of recent trading in Xero shares turns up anything untoward.

Drury will probably be right. Even if there is some substance in the speculation, these things are always difficult to prove.

Xero shares closed up $2 at $25 last night, taking the company's market capitalisation back above $3 billion.

Rumour mill

Market rumours are continuing to fly over the regulatory probe into alleged illegal trading at Milford Asset Management.

The Auckland firm, which has more than $3 billion under management, was probably hoping to quell speculation about the case when it outed itself this month as the fund manager being investigated by the Financial Markets Authority.

One of the most recent rumours is that the FMA expanded the scope of the probe a couple of weeks ago, requesting information from sharebrokers.

The regulator, which appears to be getting increasingly grumpy about the Milford-related market chatter and information leakage, wasn't saying much about the latest speculation last week.

But on Tuesday a short statement was released confirming material had been sought from brokers as part of the investigation.

"The FMA has not broadened the scope of its current investigation," said spokesman Andrew Park. "We will not be commenting on what we have requested."

As the investigation is looking into alleged market manipulation through dodgy trading practices, it's hardly surprising that information has been sought from brokers.

What's clear is that the rumours and speculation are unlikely to ease.

For the sake of everyone involved, the FMA needs to bring this matter to a conclusion as quickly as possible.

Information flow

Things have been quiet on initial public offering front this year.

But when the IPO pipeline starts pumping again, prospective investors might get a few more juicy details in pre-prospectus press releases than they've been used to seeing.

Roger Wallis, a partner with law firm Chapman Tripp, said that under previous legislation, companies were hamstrung in how much information they could make public before they registered a prospectus.

But the Financial Markets Conduct Act, which came fully into force in December, has done away with such restrictions, provided the information isn't misleading.

"You'll see companies outing themselves [about their listing plans] a bit earlier on and building some profile about what they do," Wallis said.

Transport and logistics company Fliway yesterday said it was looking to raise $30 million to $50 million through an IPO and NZX main board listing.

Triple win at awards

ANZ Investments cleaned up at the New Zealand Morningstar Awards on Wednesday night.

The funds management division of the Australasian bank was named Fund Manager of the Year, as well winning the International Equities and KiwiSaver categories. ANZ Investments, NZ's biggest funds management firm, has more than $20 billion under management.

Morningstar said ANZ's performance across all asset classes remained impressive in 2014, with investors benefiting from fee reductions.

AMP Capital Investors won the fixed interest award, while Devon Funds Management won the domestic equities category.

"Devon's stock-picking ability was ably demonstrated again in 2014 through shrewd local calls complemented by judicious investment in a difficult Australian investing environment," Morningstar said.

Devon's popular Alpha Fund was closed to new investments this month after reaching $130 million.