New Zealand shares rose as investors were cheered when US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the US central bank can be patient on raising interest rates further.
The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 40.42 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 8,959.58. Within the index, 31 stocks rose, seven were unchanged and 12 fell. Turnover was $61.1 million.
Powell told the Economic Club of Washington DC the Fed can "watch patiently and carefully."
His comments, coupled with other similar comments from Fed officials recently, has meant the market has pared back its expectations regarding Fed rate hikes for this year, increasing the attractiveness of equity markets.
Investors, however, are still jittery about the US-China trade tensions.
US and Chinese officials are now working on arrangements for higher-level trade talks after mid-level officials met this week.
Leads from US markets were reasonably strong "and we have flowed on from there," said Grant Davies, an investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene in Christchurch. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.5 per cent in overnight trading.
With few domestic drivers, investor sentiment is largely being driven by events offshore. Volumes remained very tepid and "we are still in that holding pattern coming up to the earnings season in February," he said.
Synlait Milk added 0.8 per cent to $9.27 after it said registration of its Dunsandel plant in the South Island has been renewed by Chinese authorities for another four years.
A2 Milk added eased 0.1 per cent to $11.35.
The most heavily traded stock was Kiwi Property Group, which added 0.4 per cent to $1.385 while Spark New Zealand was the second, adding 0.1 per cent to $4.165, although volumes were well below the average of the past 90 days.
Z Energy also saw fairly heavy trading, with around 621,155 shares trading hands, below the daily average of 1 million in the past three months. It gained 2.2 per cent at $5.61.
Sky Network Television, up 4.8 per cent at $1.98, was the biggest mover on the day, followed by SkyCity, which added 2.6 per cent to $3.62.
In the other direction, the Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell the most, losing 2.1 per cent to $4.70 on some bargain-hunting after it gained in recent sessions. Air New Zealand shed 1.1 per cent to $3.16 while Auckland International Airport was down 0.8 per cent at $7.22.
Fletcher Building fell 0.6 per cent to $4.94. According to Stats NZ, New Zealand councils consented almost 32,800 new dwellings in the year through November, 5.3 per cent more than a year earlier.
Ahead of the February earnings season, Davies said investors are now watching for any Christmas updates from retailers, in particular after Kathmandu's disappointing Christmas result. Kathmandu, which has fallen 17.6 per cent this year, ended down 0.4 per cent at $2.25