Westpac and Tegel among worst performers but broker emphasis's falls were on 'pretty low' volumes

New Zealand shares fell, with volumes still low. Westpac Banking Corp, A2 Milk Co and Tegel Group Holdings all dropped though New Zealand Refining Co gained.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dipped 3.68 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7059.28. Within the index, 26 stocks fell, 17 rose and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $103.3 million.

"There were some mildly negative leads overnight, mainly from Europe," said James Smalley, a director at stockbroker Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Asia's pretty mixed, it's down but not massive amounts. It's pretty quiet volumes-wise at the moment, even the stocks that have fallen the most have pretty low volumes."

Westpac Banking Corp led the index lower, down 1.8 per cent to $33.80, while Tegel Group Holdings fell 1.5 per cent to $1.36. The poultry producer listed at $1.55 in May last year. A2 Milk Co dropped 1.7 per cent to $2.27.


New Zealand Refining Co was the best performer, up 1.9 per cent to $2.75. The oil refinery operator said its annual throughput hit record levels in 2016 and its fee income for the year was the third largest earned by the company in the past 10 years.

"It's a very good announcement, particularly on margins," Smalley said.

Air New Zealand rose 1.6 per cent to $2.24, Ryman Healthcare gained 1.5 per cent to $8.40, and Chorus rose 1.2 per cent to $4.11.

Xero fell 1 per cent to $18.32. The cloud-based accounting software company says it is still considering whether chairman Chris Liddell's position is compatible with his new role as a White House adviser in the Trump administration and will update the market when a decision is made.

Units in Fonterra Shareholders' Fund gained 0.6 per cent to $6.25 - the highest level since November 2014. Dairy product prices inched higher at the Global Dairy Trade auction overnight. Whole milk powder slipped 0.1 per cent, while butter rose 1.6 per cent.

Infratil gained 0.5 per cent to $2.91, a three-month high. "It's bounced about 11.5 per cent since December when it hit almost 2-and-a-half-year lows," Smalley said.

"There may be a bit of bargain hunting there, a lot of its investments are doing pretty well - it's got some solid businesses generating some significant cashflows. That selldown came after they made an investment into renewable energy in the States, probably not a great time given who won the US election and his theory on climate change."

Outside the main index, Pushpay dropped 4.7 per cent to $1.62. The shares dropped sharply in December, triggering a price enquiry from stockmarket operator NZX, but recovered in early January before the company gave a third-quarter trading update last Wednesday.

"It's one of those stocks you've got to be quite patient with. You've had the selldown, the bounce back, and maybe what we've seen is some of the luckier investors who did buy down around those $1.30, $1.40 levels, they've been exiting at $1.80 and that's what pushing the stock down to where it is now," Smalley said. "