New Zealand shares fell slightly, despite a gain in energy stocks and ANZ Bank New Zealand rising on its first-half earnings.
The S&P/NZX50 Index dipped 7.61 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 8,435.97. Within the index, 19 stocks fell, 18 rose and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $113.5 million.
"Most people are away at a Macquarie conference, a lot of them are locked down in meetings so it's hard for them to do things - it normally drags a lot of participants out of the market and means volumes dwindle, and that's what we're seeing today," said Rickey Ward, NZ equity manager at JBWere.
Kiwi Property led the index lower, down 2.6 per cent to $1.335, with Sky Network Television falling 1.3 per cent to $2.25.
SkyCity Entertainment Group dipped 0.3 per cent to $4.04. Its $703mn New Zealand International Convention Centre and Hobson Street hotel project, which is being built by beleaguered Fletcher Building, will be delayed a further six months. They are now expected to be completed in December 2019. Fletcher Building fell 1.7 per cent to $6.20.
Restaurant Brands was the best performer, up 2.9 per cent to $7.39, and Gentrack Group gained 2.6 per cent to $7.19.
ANZ Bank New Zealand rose 2.3 per cent to $29.36. The local unit of Australia & New Zealand Banking Group lifted first-half earnings 1 per cent to $941m as mortgage lending continued to grow.
In Australia, the bank is currently part of the royal commission into financial services which has become a scandal as unethical behaviour across the industry has been revealed. Group chief executive Shayne Elliott said the bank will learn from this inquiry and continue to take real action to restore trust within the community.
"The sector is under pressure for obvious reason, at some point investors say what moves will they make to address any outcomes coming from the enquiry, and what is priced in to the current value," Ward said. "It has been on many analysts' positive watch, because they have been beaten up quite a lot."
Meridian Energy gained 1.2 per cent to $2.975. It has signed a contract with New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS) to agree the price of electricity for an additional 50 MWh per hour (438 gigawatt hours per year) at Tiwai Point in Southland.
The contract, underwritten by Meridian and supported by contracts with Contact Energy, Genesis Energy and Mercury New Zealand, runs until December 2022 and facilitates NZAS re-starting its fourth potline and increasing production by 9.2 per cent.
Genesis rose 1.3 per cent to $2.28 and Contact was up 0.9 per cent to $5.43, while Mercury dipped 0.2 per cent to $3.185.
"It has helped the sector, part of that announcement confirmed the move towards renewables, and the requirement to be prepared for that demand going forward," Ward said. "Electricity companies have got a bit of support in recent weeks from a move towards electric vehicles or a significant move towards renewable sources of generation."
Z Energy was unchanged at $7.25, though it traded higher for much of the day. Z is due to report on Thursday, and gained yesterday despite renewed calls for government intervention in petrol pricing following a leaked email from BP New Zealand.
"You can only invest in what you know, we're waiting to hear a result and the share price is off almost $1 from its peak. It's a company that will hopefully confirm speculation around dividend trajectory, and earnings guidance for the coming year," Ward said. "Regulation is the major competitor for many listed companies, given the size of our market."
Outside the benchmark index, Oceania Healthcare gained 1 per cent to 99 cents. The company says it's on track to lift underlying earnings by at least 51 per cent and meet forecasts in its offer document, with strong demand for its aged care suites. That implies underlying earnings will rise to at least $51.4m in the year ending May 31 from the $34m reported in 2017.