New Zealand shares fell from a record high, led by Trade Me Group and Orion Health Group, as investors await earnings season for evidence that high valuations are being driven by anything more than the absence of attractive alternatives to dividend yields.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 6.91 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7310.39, having gained about 16 per cent this year. Within the index 27 stocks fell, 18 rose and six were unchanged. Turnover was $137 million.
The index has seen a rise of just under 8.8 per cent in a little over a month to a peak of 7317.3 on Monday.
Trade Me, the auction website, fell 2.8 per cent to $5.24. Orion declined 2.1 per cent to $4.75. The stocks have gained 26 per cent and 48 per cent respectively this year - two of the three biggest gainers on the index.
Fletcher Building, which has gained 28 per cent this year, was unchanged at $9.40 yesterday.
With little corporate news ahead of earnings season, and little in the way of profit warnings to change expectations, equity investors are keeping an eye on central bank activity, especially the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's latest meeting this week. "This week is very much wait and see," said Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets.
"But when you boil it down, equities are pretty appealing when you look at the alternatives. There's a belief that earnings season is going to be a pretty decent one."
NZME shares rose 6.3 per cent to 84c as Australian media giant News Ltd disclosed it had consolidated all of its 14.99 per cent holding under its own name.
Comvita, the manuka honey products company, fell 1.9 per cent to $10.35 and A2 Milk fell 1.5 per cent to $1.96.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which gets more than half its revenue in US dollars, fell 1.4 per cent to $10.50 as the kiwi gained late in the day.
Vital Healthcare Property Trust declined 1.8 per cent to $2.23 and Heartland Bank fell 1.5 per cent to $1.33.
Air New Zealand was the biggest gainer on the index, rising 1.2 per cent to $2.175.
Z Energy rose 1.1 per cent to $8.61.