New Zealand shares joined a global rally on optimism that the latest US delegation to Beijing will make meaningful gains in soothing the strained trade relations.
Tourism Holdings led widespread gains; SkyCity Entertainment Group fell after reporting a decline in first-half profit and a share buyback.
The S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 per cent to 9,333.38. Within the index, 36 stocks gained, 11 fell, and three were unchanged. Turnover was $180.2 million.
Stocks across Asia largely followed Wall Street higher. with South Korea's Kospi 200 index up 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng gaining 1.1 per cent and Singapore's Straits Times index advancing 1.2 per cent.
Investor sentiment was buoyed by the prospect of US policymakers avoiding another Federal government shutdown, and on optimism that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will cut through some of the more intractable issues between the US and China.
"People are more optimistic on the trade front and US President Donald Trump has back-pedalled a bit on his wall," said Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets.
Rental RV operator Tourism Holdings led the market higher, up 3.1 per cent at $4.69 on a smaller-than-average volume of 92,000. Transport fuels firm Z Energy gained 2.3 per cent to $6.14 on a lighter volume than usual of 655,000.
Smith said the neutral stances adopted by central banks in the US and Australia were also stoking demand for stocks offering steady dividends. New Zealand's Reserve Bank adopted that stance today, pushing out its projection to raise the official cash rate by about half a year.
Mercury NZ was up 0.9 per cent at $3.785 on a volume of 499,000, Meridian Energy gained 0.5 per cent to $3.76 on a volume of 1.4 million and Genesis Energy gained 0.3 per cent to $6.41 on a volume of 629,000.
Smith said those Crown-controlled electricity generator-retailers were a good proxy for high-dividend-paying stocks, and had also benefited from favourable wholesale electricity prices.
SkyCity dropped 4 per cent to $3.83 on a volume of 2.4 million, compared to its 90-day average of 572,000. The casino operator reported an 11 per cent decline in net profit to $82.8m, in line with earnings guidance at the end of January. It also declared plans to buy back up to 5 per cent of its outstanding shares over the coming year.
Smith said the shares have been on the rise since December, and today's decline could be some profit-taking on those gains.
Spark New Zealand was the most active stock, with a volume of 5.7 million shares, compared to its 3.7 million three-monthly average. It rose 1 per cent to $4.095. Trade Me slipped 0.2 per cent to $6.36 on a volume of 4.4 million, and Fletcher Building gained 1.9 per cent to $5.26 on a volume of 2.6 million.
Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell 0.6 per cent to $4.69, A2 Milk increased 0.9 per cent to $13.57, Pushpay gained 1.6 per cent at $3.25, Auckland International Airport was up 0.1 per cent at $7.56, and Kiwi Property Group fell 1.4 per cent to $1.43.
Outside the benchmark index, Hallenstein Glasson Holdings gained 5.1 per cent to $4.35 after flagging a gain in first-half profit after a stronger-than-expected Christmas trading period.
Millennium & Copthorne Hotels New Zealand fell 0.7 per cent after reporting a 15 per cent increase in annual profit and a higher dividend, while signalling slower growth for 2019. Subsidiary CDL Investments New Zealand was unchanged at 85 cents.
PGG Wrightson fell 1 per cent to 47.5 cents. After the close of trading, the Commerce Commission approved the sale of its seeds business to Denmark's DLF Seeds.