Meridian leads index to new peak but A2 and banks amongst those whose prices fell.

New Zealand shares were mixed. The NZX 50 Index reached a record high but more companies fell.

Meridian Energy rose ahead of going ex-dividend today while A2 Milk fell as its chief executive sold shares. Banks declined after Australia & New Zealand Banking Group lifted its bad debt provision last week.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 13.79 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6676.33. Within the index, 20 stocks rose, 22 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $122 million.

Meridian Energy led the index's advance, gaining 3.6 per cent to $2.62. The energy retailer gives up rights to a 5.1c interim dividend along with a 2.44c special dividend today.


Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said investors may be buying the stock to get the payments.

Z Energy advanced 2.8 per cent to $6.68. Just before market close, it said it had settled a dispute with the NZ Customs Service for $18.5 million, with $13.5 million of that to affect 2016 as $5 million was accrued in 2015. Z had already paid Customs $28 million, so has had $9.5 million returned to it under the settlement.

Australian banks continued last Thursday's downward trend, which was driven by ANZ Bank announcing an increase in bad debt provisions. The dual-listed Australian bank said it would increase its provisions for bad debt by at least A$100 million, on top of the A$800 million it anticipated for the first half of 2016, which it projected in February.

ANZ dropped 2.7 per cent to $26.01 and Westpac Banking shed 2.9 per cent to $33.50. AMP fell 0.5 per cent to $6.40. "That announcement did catch a few people by surprise, they've come under a bit of selling pressure," Lister said. "In this part of the world we don't need to be concerned about banks failing, but it's going to eat into profits a little bit, which concerns investors."

NZX gained 2 per cent to $1.02, Contact Energy rose 1.8 per cent to $5.04, and Fletcher Building grew 1.7 per cent to $7.81.

A2 Milk was the worst performer, down 5.5 per cent to $1.89. Chief executive Geoffrey Babidge sold 1 million shares for $1.99 million, leaving him with 7.5 million shares in A2.

Outside the main index, Veritas Investments fell 14.8 per cent to 23c, matching a record low set earlier this month, and valuing the company at about $10 million. Veritas and local Burger King franchise operator Antares Restaurant Group said they had agreed to sell the assets of their joint venture which supplied beef patties to the fast food operator after the deal broke down last year.

Trilogy International gained 2.9 per cent to $3.36. Chief executive Angela Buglass has sold 100,000 shares after the first tranche of 400,000 options vested, taking advantage of a stock price that soared 284 per cent in the past year and reached a record $3.52 this month.

IkeGPS was unchanged at 66c and has fallen 5.7 per cent so far this year.

A reshuffle will see the exit of the laser measurement tool developer's chief financial officer and senior vice-president of sales.