New Zealand shares followed Asian markets higher on renewed hopes for a resolution to the US-China trade tensions. Trading was light with few local drivers.

The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 19.9 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 9077.71. Within the index, 28 stocks rose, eight were unchanged and 14 fell. Turnover was $125.3 million.

Asian stocks lifted on renewed optimism after the Wall Street Journal reported US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for January 30. The gains were tempered when a Treasury spokesman working with the trade team told CNBC that talks are "nowhere near completion."

However, Australia's S&P/ASX was up 0.5 per cent while Japan's Topix was up 1.1 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.9 per cent.


Forsyth Barr broker Suzanne Kinnaird suggested any gains are likely to be fleeting "until we see some official news." Overall, she said New Zealand trading is still relatively quiet, with people only just now heading back to work after the summer break.

The most heavily traded stock was Spark New Zealand, which lost 0.3 per cent to $4.04 with around 7.2 million shares trading versus a daily average of 3.4 million over the past 90 days.

Second was Trade Me Group, which slipped 0.2 per cent to $6.33 with 4.7 million shares trading hands versus a daily average of 3.4 million over the past three months. In December the company agreed to a scheme implementation agreement under which UK-based Apax Partners will acquire all its shares at $6.45 apiece, subject to shareholder and court approval and no better offers emerging. A vote is expected in April.

Fletcher Building also saw more than 2 million stocks change hands, lifting 1.0 per cent to $5.02.

Kiwi Property Group lifted 0.4 to $1.395 while Precinct Property rose 0.3 per cent to $1.48. Kinnaird said high-yielding stocks like the property companies and energy companies remained in demand in a low interest rate environment.

Among energy companies, Contact Energy added 0.2 per cent to $6.13 while Genesis Energy shed 2.2 per cent to $2.65, likely on some profit-taking after a recent strong run.

The top mover was Gentrack Group, up 2.3 per cent to $5.35, followed by Sky Network Television, which added 2.1 per cent to $1.96 and Chorus, up 1.9 per cent to $4.82.

In the other direction, New Zealand Refining shed 2.5 per cent to $2.33 while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare lost 1.8 per cent to $13.85. Kathmandu continued to slide after a weak Christmas period, shedding 1.6 per cent to $2.41.


Tilt Renewables has left its full-year earnings guidance in place after December quarter production fell about 5 per cent shy of long-term expectations. The stock was unchanged at $2.30.