New Zealand shares fell as global sentiment weakened, with Air New Zealand, Sky Network Television and Xero down.

The S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 53.05 points, or 0.9 per cent, to 5933.97. Within the index, 41 stocks fell, eight rose and one was unchanged. Turnover was $124 million.

"A small number of people just want to get out, and there's no one at home on the buy side," said Matthew Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management.

Jittery investors flee market and bolt back to gold
Godfreys hoovers up The Service Company for $2.7 million
Kiwi rises on fear factor
Air New Zealand led the index lower, dropping 5.9 per cent to $2.695. That's a three-month low for the stock, which rallied pre-Christmas to peak in late January with oil prices plummeting. The airlines's annual earnings are due on February 25 and its stock rating was downgraded from outperform to neutral by broking firm Forsyth Barr yesterday.


Sky Network Television fell 3.9 per cent to $4.23, while Xero dropped 3.6 per cent to $13.50, and Z Energy dropped 3.3 per cent to $5.85.

The local market has fallen 3.6 per cent since Monday, in a week where global markets slid amid mounting concerns about European banks, oil prices and a slowdown in China.

Nuplex Industries shed 3.3 per cent to $3.86, Chorus dropped 3 per cent to $3.62 and Fonterra Shareholder's Fund declined 2.8 per cent to $5.50.

Port of Tauranga fell 2.7 per cent to $18.10, Freightways dropped 2.6 per cent to $6.10 and Summerset Group lost 2.5 per cent to $3.85.

On the positive side of the market, Mighty River Power advanced 2.4 per cent to $2.64.

Spark New Zealand rose 2.2 per cent to $3.29. Spark's Revera unit is to supply the Inland Revenue Department's data centre services for the new tax system being developed under its business transformation programme. The 10-year deal is worth between $45 million and $60 million.

Outside the benchmark index, Michael Hill International advanced 2.1 per cent to 97c. The listed jewellery retailer increased first-half profit 5.1 per cent.

Australian vacuum cleaner firm Godfreys Group has bought New Zealand commercial cleaning firm The Service Company (TSC) for $2.7 million as it seeks to build up the business in a highly fragmented market. The company's ASX-listed shares rose 6.1 per cent to A$1.21, and have dropped 34 per cent this year.