New Zealand shares were almost unchanged today after a sell-off in Chinese equities unwound some of the positive sentiment left over from Wall Street. Vector and Warehouse Group rose while Air New Zealand fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index decreased 0.2 points and was almost unchanged at 6148.43. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 15 fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $94 million.

The local bourse rose as much as 0.6 per cent, but fell away as Chinese markets traded down this afternoon. China's Shanghai Composite index was down 2.8 per cent, while the large-cap CSI 300 Index dropped 2.2 per cent.

Overnight news out of Wall Street was positive, with better-than-expected corporate earnings adding to positive sentiment. That optimism continued through most Asian markets excluding China and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 which fell 1.3 per cent, having been closed for trading yesterday for Australia Day.


"We have weakened off during the day on extremely light volumes - that volume hasn't come back yet before our earnings season," said Peter McIntyre, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.

Vector showed the biggest gain, up 2.2 per cent to $3.24, a one-month high. Warehouse Group rose 1.9 per cent to $2.70, and Meridian Energy was up 1.7 per cent to $2.34.

Kathmandu Holdings gained 1.3 per cent to $1.54, and Goodman Property Trust advanced 1.2 per cent to $1.265. Xero grew 1.2 per cent to hit $17, having fallen 15 per cent since the start of the year.

Air New Zealand posted the biggest fall today, down 4.8 per cent to $3.07. The stock price has rallied as oil prices have floundered, hitting a high of $3.225 yesterday, a price last seen in September 2001.

"There's definitely been some profit taking even though there's still light volumes," McIntyre said.

The airline was still cheap, despite the share price rally, he added.

Orion Health Group fell 2.3 per cent to $3.01, Steel & Tube dropped 1.8 per cent to $2.15, and Nuplex Industries shed 1.4 per cent to $4.29.

Contact Energy shed 1.1 per cent to $4.60, and Westpac Banking dipped 0.9 per cent to $32.79.


Outside the benchmark index, Veritas Investments plunged 42 per cent to 29 cents after the food and beverage investor downgraded its outlook for earnings to $3 million-$3.5 million from $5.3 million-$5.5 million previously flagged, and nixed a first-half dividend. Veritas had affirmed its profit guidance in November, saying first-quarter trading was in line with expectations and the second quarter was expected to be more profitable.

"Obviously that business is struggling," McIntyre said. "They seem to have a history of downgrading, and investors are lacking confidence about what's happening within that business currently."

OceanaGold rose 6.9 per cent to $3.10. The Melbourne-based company extracted more gold than it expected in 2015 and is predicting it will exceed that again this year.

"They're developing themselves as one of the low-cost producers of gold on an 'all-in sustaining costs' perspective globally," McIntyre said. "Management seem to have done a really good job in what is typically quite a tough environment for some miners [outside] the gold sector." BusinessDesk