New Zealand shares were mixed as weak international investor sentiment weighed on positive local earnings.
The S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1.85 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 8,825.89. Within the index, 32 stocks fell, seven were unchanged and 11 rose. Turnover was $105 million.
US stocks declined for a fifth day with a bounce in oil prices not enough to quell concerns about slowing tech sector growth and a more hostile international trading environment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index were each down 0.8 per cent. In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 index was recently down 0.8 per cent, with banks again among the losers.
Robert Garden, an investment advisor with Craigs Investment Partners, said US investors are facing rising interest rates and "the potential for a slowing economy."
In the absence of strong earnings news, investors there are increasingly looking to global drivers – such as the US trade talks with China at the end of the month, or the on-going Brexit talks for the UK.
"There's a lot happening in the world to look at and get worried about" if that's your inclination, he said. "That's followed through to us as well."
Vector, the country's biggest power distributor, was the biggest loser in the main benchmark today. The stock fell 3 per cent to $3.29, its lowest close since late August. The firm's board is two directors light after the majority shareholding trust last week withdrew support for two respected Australian infrastructure specialists appointed earlier this year.
The biggest gainer was Freightways, which rose 3.2 per cent to $7.03 – recouping half its loss yesterday after larger rival Mainfreight delivered a better-than-expected 32 per cent increase in first-half profit to $55.7m.
Garden said Mainfreight, at an all-time closing high at $31, is an example of the good quality firms investors are happy to reward. It rose 2.5 per cent today, following its 5.2 per cent increase yesterday.
Garden said good quality yield stocks, like Spark New Zealand and Chorus, and energy and property plays, are also being well supported, given the recent volatility and the outlook for higher interest rates.
Spark was the heaviest traded stock today with almost 2.3 million shares changing hands, down slightly on the daily average for the past three months. It rose 0.9 per cent to $4.175.
Chorus rose 0.8 per cent to $4.96. Almost 970,000 shares changed hands, about twice the average.
Among other big volume stocks was fuel retailer Z Energy. The stock was unchanged at $5.80 with almost two million shares changing hands – twice the daily average the past three months.
Kiwi Property Group was also unchanged at $1.35. Just over 1.8 million shares were traded, 66 percent more than usual.
Air New Zealand rose 1.5 percent to $3.105. More than 1.7 million shares changed hands, almost 80 per cent more than the daily average.
Among the other majors A2 Milk Co rose 1.3 per cent to $10.14. Synlait Milk fell 1.2 per cent to $8.40.
Garden said both stocks have shown a little more stability recently. The question for some investors remains how their respective platforms in the Chinese market will perform.
Fletcher Building fell 1.6 per cent to $5.63 the lowest close in seven months.
Having regained much lost ground earlier in the year, investors are again wary after SkyCity announced further delays on the Auckland convention centre Fletcher is building for it.
"It's obviously going to come down to some concrete news that things are improving," Garden said of Fletcher's outlook.
Pharmaceuticals and pet food company Ebos Group was the second biggest gainers today, rising 2.6 per cent to $21.75.
The stock rose a second day after telling investors the 10,000 square-metre warehouse it opened in Brisbane last month may deliver similar productivity and cost improvements to the warehouse it opened in Victoria in 2015.
Rakon was unchanged at 30 cents. The high-tech chip maker reported a 55 per cent increase in underlying first-half earnings. It is expecting good demand from its mobile customers but reduced volumes in the global positioning market.
Sanford fell 1.4 per cent to $7.25. The fishing company said the 1.5 per cent increase in full-year operating earnings to $64.7m was below expectations after climatic conditions reduced catches.
New Zealand Oil & Gas fell 6.4 per cent to 59 cents. The onshore Kohatukai-1 well the firm is a partner won't deliver commercial volumes of gas and will be plugged and abandoned.