New Zealand shares fell, snapping a six-day run of gains, as a stronger kiwi dollar weighed on exporters such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and A2 Milk. Skellerup bucked the trend, gaining after it reported increased earnings.
The S&P/NZX 50 index fell 48.46 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 9,284.92. Within the index, 24 declined, 23 rose and three were unchanged. Turnover was $132.9 million.
Exporters were largely weaker, with a stronger kiwi dollar weighing on their earnings. The New Zealand dollar climbed back above 68 US cents on a less dovish outlook from the Reserve Bank than some analysts had expected. January trade data from China, New Zealand's biggest export partner, was also much stronger than expected.
A2 Milk fell 2.7 per cent to $13.20 on a smaller-than-average volume of 906,000, while F&P Healthcare was down 1.4 per cent at $13.70 on a bigger-than-usual volume of 804,000. Retailer Kathmandu, which counts Australia as its biggest market, dropped 2.9 per cent to $2.33. About 784,000 shares changed hands, more than three times its 90-day average volume.
"We've just turned a little with the strength of the kiwi dollar following the Reserve Bank announcement," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.
He said the benchmark index has gained 5.5 per cent so far this year, and investors were probably realising some of those gains as the corporate earnings season gets busier.
Skellerup reported a 15 per cent gain in first-half profit and signalled another record annual result. The rubber goods maker's industrial division had been a strong performer, driven by sales to US equipment makers. The shares rose 1.5 per cent to $2.08 on a volume of 797,000, compared to its 185,000 average.
NZX rose 1 per cent to $1.02 ahead of tomorrow's annual earnings result. About 1.3 million shares changed hands, more than 10 times its three-month average.
Sky Network Television posted the biggest decline on the day, down 3.6 per cent at $1.87, nearing the 13-year low it hit last month. Rival Television New Zealand's chief executive Kevin Kenrick and chair Therese Walsh told MPs today that the state-owned broadcaster would take a keen interest in the sale of Nine Entertainment's Stuff assets, and would want to involved in wider industry discussions.
Spark New Zealand was the most active stock with 4.6 million shares changing hands, compared to its 3.7 million average. The shares fell 0.4 per cent to $4.08. SkyCity Entertainment Group rose 1 per cent to $3.87 on a volume of 2.5 million, and Kiwi Property Group increased 0.4 per cent to $1.435 on a volume of 1.8 million.
Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Trade Me Group increased 0.2 per cent to $6.37, Fletcher Building fell 0.6 per cent to $5.23, Goodman Property Trust rose 0.3 per cent to $1.65, Precinct Properties New Zealand was unchanged at $1.54, Meridian Energy decreased 0.3 per cent to $3.75 and Mercury NZ decreased 0.4 per cent to $3.77.
Stride Property posted the biggest gain on the day, up 2.6 per cent at $1.99 on a volume of 1.1 million shares.
Outside the benchmark index, PGG Wrightson jumped 16 per cent to 55 cents after the Commerce Commission approved the sale of the rural service firm's seeds division to DLF Seeds for $434m in cash and assumed debt.