New Zealand shares edged higher as strong tourism data boosted prospects for airports and attraction operators. A2 Milk rose for a third day ahead of the reweighting of FTSE indices that it will have a larger presence in.
The S&P/NZX 50 increased 15.1 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 9,375.97. Within the index, 24 stocks gained, 20 fell and six were unchanged. Turnover was $514.1 million.
Volumes earlier in the day were light, with the index also down for much of the day.
Bryon Burke, head of equities at Craigs Investment Partners, said the re-weighting of the FTSE indices, which had also weighed on Sky Network Television earlier in the week, had reduced activity for much of the session.
"That's left the institutions sitting on the sidelines for a good part of the day," he said.
Burke said investors have been challenged recently by some strong results in the earnings season, but concern that weak consumer and investment confidence may weigh on the domestic outlook.
Retailer Warehouse Group, which today reported full-year earnings near the top of its recent guidance, fell 2.5 per cent to $1.98.
Burke said the result was fairly good, with the firm's Noel Leeming appliance brand performing particularly well.
But he said retailing was not getting any easier. For a firm like Warehouse, which has to import product, distribute it and sell it, the weaker New Zealand dollar is not going to help.
"There are definitely some headwinds there for Warehouse."
Auckland International Airport, the country's largest, rose 2.5 per cent to $7.38.
Campervan operator Tourism Holdings rose a second day, gaining 3.2 per cent to $5.47.
Tourist numbers in August were 5.4 per cent higher than a year earlier, Stats NZ said. Arrivals for the year through August reached a record 3.8 million and were 3.6 per cent higher than a year earlier.
Infometrics economist Mieke Welvaert said the report provided the first clear view of tourist activity in several months, given the Lions Rugby tour and World Masters games here last year. Tourism arrivals from the UK and China were also strong.
Jeweller Michael Hill International was unchanged at 95 cents.
The Brisbane-based firm has hired Daniel Bracken, current head of Sydney-based Specialty Fashion Group, to replace chief executive Phil Taylor who is stepping down due to ill-health.
Among the blue-chip stocks, Spark fell 1.3 per cent to $3.93. It has fallen 13.5 cents during the past two days after shedding rights to a 12.5 cent-a-share dividend yesterday.
A2 Milk Co rose 0.9 per cent to $12.38, Sky Network rose 2.1 per cent to $2.21. Mainfreight increased 0.7 per cent to $20.10 and Fletcher Building increased 1.1 per cent to $6.30.