A2 Milk leads stock index higher as Kiwi investors take ‘a bit of a breather.’

New Zealand shares edged up on smaller than normal volumes as investors took a "breather", with A2 Milk Co, Air New Zealand and Steel & Tube Holdings gaining.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 16.01 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 7080.32, a record high. Within the index, 27 stocks gained, 18 fell and six were static. Turnover was $120.3 million.

Anthony Halls, portfolio manager at Mint Asset Management, said local investors had taken "a bit of a breather with no offshore news to push the market around" and school holidays thinning out some trading desks.

A2 Milk was the biggest gainer, up 5.3 per cent to $1.98, a four-month high.


Halls said A2 had got a bit of support in New Zealand as the Kiwi dollar dropped, helping the translation from the Aussie to NZ dollars, but volumes were very light.

A large Australian broker upgraded ASX-listed stock Bellamy's, a fellow infant formula producer, he said.

Air New Zealand rose 2.5 per cent to $2.23, Steel & Tube Holdings advanced 2.1 per cent to $1.94 and New Zealand Refining Co gained 2 per cent to $2.56.

Xero was the worst performer, down 1.5 per cent to $17.72.

Orion Health Group fell 1.4 per cent to $4.86 and Comvita dropped 1.4 per cent to $11.60.

The dual-listed Australian banks gained despite a warning from credit ratings agency Moody's Investors Service that they face more challenges this year. It predicted a moderate weakening in asset quality and a slowdown in earnings growth.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group gained 1.7 per cent to $26.14 and Westpac Banking Corp rose 1.1 per cent to $31.35.

Goodman Property Trust gained 1.5 per cent to $1.32. NZ's second-biggest listed property investor will sell three of its Auckland offices for $206 million to reduce debt. Outside the main bourse, Pushpay Holdings gained 0.4 per cent to $2.42.


Pushpay is planning an ASX listing by the end of the year and is expanding its mobile payment app beyond the religious sector to helping people pay bills for utilities such as water and insurance.