New Zealand shares rose, joining a regional rally on optimism over US-China trade relations. Fonterra Cooperative Group's first annual loss dominated local headlines.

The S&P/NZX 50 index gained 53.42 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 9,248.99. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 15 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $153.1 million.

Stocks across Asia rose on reports US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin extended an olive branch to his counterparts in China, inviting them to ministerial level trade talks.

Tensions between the world's two biggest economies increased volatility in financial markets as investors try to gauge the potential impact on global growth. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1.5 per cent in afternoon trading, while Japan's Topix rose 1.2 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite Index increased 0.1 per cent.


Fonterra's annual result kept local investors busy. The cooperative posted a loss attributable to shareholders of $221m with all business units struggling. The new leadership team is reviewing the entire business and have pledged to reduce debt levels by $800m.

The Fonterra Shareholders' Fund, which gives external investors exposure to the cooperative's earnings, rose 0.8 per cent to $5.01.

"A lot of the coverage has been fairly negative and it's a bit of a miss in terms of the forecast they were indicating," said Grant Davies, an investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

"Shareholders' Fund investors just go along for the ride - you've got no voting rights and you're really putting faith in your directors and the farm gate manual."

He said A2 Milk Co and Synlait Milk have been cleaner investment opportunities for investors. Over the past year, Fonterra fund units have dropped 18 per cent, whereas A2 shares have climbed 101 per cent and Synlait are up 165 per cent.

A2 today slipped 0.3 per cent today to $12.06, while Synlait rose 1.5 per cent to $13.20.

Contact Energy rose 0.4 per cent to $5.73. Monthly operating stats showed the country's second-largest power and gas retailer lost the most customers in one month for seven years, falling to 410,500. Davies said the power companies were still basking in a relatively benign government review paper, which found they didn't extract excessive profits.

Mercury NZ slipped 0.2 per cent to $3.285, Meridian Energy rose 1.6 per cent to $3.28 and Genesis Energy fell 0.6 per cent to $2.49.


Trade Me led the market higher, up 3.8 per cent to $5.17. Kathmandu Holdings rose 1.9 per cent to $3.16 ahead of next week's annual result.

Tourism Holdings posted the biggest fall, down 2.3 per cent to $5.52.

Among blue-chip companies, Fletcher Building rose 1.3 per cent to $6.32, Port of Tauranga gained 1.2 per cent to $5.13, Auckland International Airport increased 1 per cent to $6.99 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare advanced 1 per cent to $15.25. Air New Zealand increased 0.2 per cent to $3.165 and Spark New Zealand rose 0.4 per cent to $4.035.

Several companies shed rights to dividend payments today. Precinct Property New Zealand fell 2 cents to $1.44 after shedding rights to a 1.45 cents per share dividend. Metlifecare declined 3 cents to $6.29 after shedding rights to a 6.75cps dividend, and Freightways fell 8 cents to $7.80 after giving up rights to a 15.25cps dividend. Stride Property Group fell 1 cent to $1.95, shedding rights to a 2.2cps dividend.

Outside the benchmark index, Methven fell 1 cent to $1.18 after shedding rights to a 4cps dividend, Seeka was unchanged at $6.10 giving up a 12cps dividend, and TIL Logistics slipped 2 cents to $1.66 after shedding a 2.3cps dividend.