New Zealand shares closed lower, with Fletcher Building dropping while Synlait and Restaurant Brands gained on good sales.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 23.83 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 7795.41. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 16 rose and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $134 million.

Matt Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said the market was unsure about the outcome of this weekend's general election and didn't know how to react to Wednesday's Colmar Brunton poll, which showed the incumbent National Party ahead.

"The currency market reacted to Colmar Brunton but I'm not sure whether anyone really knows whether to believe the polls or not, as Brexit and Trump have shown us they can be less than accurate, and particularly with the decline in landlines one wonders about the sample that they're getting," Goodson said.


"Probably the worst outcome for the market would be if there isn't a clear outcome.

"If neither National nor Labour could form a coalition with just one other party, if there needed to be a coalition of many, that would be the worst for policy uncertainty - people would perhaps keep their wallets in their pockets until that was resolved one way or another," Goodson said.

"We're watching the retirement sector as it's most directly affected by housing and a variety of policies - migration, tax."

Retirement stocks were mixed today, with Metlifecare down 0.2 per cent to $5.71 and Ryman dipping 0.1 per cent to $9.16, while Summerset was up 0.4 per cent to $5.

Fletcher Building led the index lower, down 4.8 per cent, or 39c, to $7.77. The stock gave up rights to a 19c dividend today, but Goodson said the further fall could be down to media commentary.

"There's press speculation about further losses in its contracting business, which may be playing a part in that weakness. There have been several board and exec changes in the past few days," he said.

Spark New Zealand dropped 3.3 per cent, or 12.5c, to $3.71, having given up rights to an 11c final dividend and a 1.5c special dividend.

Port of Tauranga dropped 2.1 per cent, or 9c, after giving up a 6.2c final dividend and a 5c special dividend.


Synlait was the best performer, up 1.5 per cent to $5.48.

It was the worst performer on Wednesday but reached an all-time high of $5.54 on Tuesday after posting an 11 per cent increase in annual profit.

Restaurant Brands gained 0.8 per cent to $6.39. The fast-food operator lifted second-quarter sales by 41 per cent to $224.9 million after it expanded its footprint through Australia and Hawaii.

Chorus rose 0.3 per cent to $4.02. The Wellington-based telecommunications network operator will underwrite its dividend reinvestment programme, issuing shares to the underwriter at a 3 per cent discount for the portion not taken up by shareholders.