New Zealand shares inched higher in quiet trading as investors await news from offshore. Kathmandu recovered some of its recent losses.

The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 8.97 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 8968.55. Within the index, 21 stocks rose, 12 were unchanged and 17 fell. Turnover was $80.6 million.

Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said there was "no theme" to the trading and "all of the movements are pretty tiny."

Investors are largely treading water, waiting for leads from offshore, he said.


Market sentiment may be affected by United States earnings, with several banks due to release quarterly results this week, the ongoing US government shutdown and the vote on Brexit this week.

Domestically, today's business outlook survey from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research is unlikely to move the market with business confidence still tepid, said Williamson.

Earlier yesterday, Fitch Solutions Macro Research said New Zealand's economy will likely grow at a slower pace than Treasury is forecasting due to weak business confidence and declining consumer confidence.

"We forecast real GDP growth to come in at 2.6 per cent in 2019 and 2.3 per cent in 2020 compared to the Treasury's more bullish forecasts of 3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively," it said.

Williams commented: "I do get the feeling that we are not going to see too much movement in this market unless we get some large movement offshore.

"I think investors are really waiting for the February reporting season."

Kathmandu, which has been under pressure since reporting a disappointing Christmas trading season, gained 1.3 per cent to $2.28 and was the most heavily traded stock.

However, even though volumes were larger than usual, Williamson said the company's actual on-market trading was very light.

Spark New Zealand had the second highest volume, shedding 0.6 per cent to $4.14. Almost 2 million of its shares changed hands, compared with its average 3.2 million over the past three months.

Meridian Energy was third, falling 0.7 per cent to $3.5850. Genesis Energy fell 1.5 per cent to $2.57.

Precinct Properties and Z Energy also saw fairly strong volume, with Precinct Properties down 0.7 per cent to $1.47 and Z Energy up 0.2 per cent at $5.62.

The top mover was Port of Tauranga, which gained 1.8 per cent at $5.14. Vista Group added 1.6 per cent to $3.92 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare was up 1.5 per cent to $13.8. Fletcher Building added 1 per cent to $4.99.

In the other direction, the biggest fall was in Sky Network Television, which shed 3 per cent to $1.92.

A2 Milk was unchanged at $11.35. Economists are expecting dairy prices to show a moderate rise in this week's GlobalDairyTrade auction, with ASB Bank tipping a 1 per cent in whole milk powder prices and BNZ expecting a "moderate lift".

Synlait Milk rose 1 per cent to $9.36. Late Friday it said registration of its Dunsandel plant in the South Island has been renewed by Chinese authorities for a further four years.