New Zealand shares edged higher as retirement stocks Summerset Group and Metlifecare continued to recover from a sharp selloff. Air New Zealand and Tourism Holdings fell in the wake of weaker tourism numbers.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 1.73 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 9,768.33. Within the index, 22 rose, 19 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $95.6 million, with just three companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares.

Retirement stocks rose for a second day having spent most of the week under pressure since Summerset last Friday cited slowing property markets in Auckland and Christchurch among reasons for its weaker first-quarter unit sales. Housing data today showed activity remained weak in Auckland, while national house price inflation slowed.

Metlifecare led the market higher, up 2.2 per cent at $4.69 on a volume of 182,000 shares, down on its 205,000 three-month average. Summerset increased 1.8 per cent to $5.81 and Ryman Healthcare rose 0.8 per cent to $11.60. Arvida Group fell 1.5 per cent to $1.29.

Advertisement

"The kiwi market's a bit lower this week, weighed down by the retirement village stocks," said Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets. "They've bounced a little bit today."

Smith said the property market has been a tailwind for the sector in recent years, but the slowdown may turn it into a headwind.

Spark New Zealand was the most traded stock on a volume of 2.5 million shares, less than half the usual six million. It rose 2.1 per cent to $3.635. Precinct Properties New Zealand increased 1 per cent to $1.565 on a volume of 1.7 million shares, almost twice its 90-day average of 888,000. Auckland International Airport fell 0.4 per cent to $7.965 on a volume of 1.5 million shares.

Air New Zealand posted the biggest decline, down 2.8 per cent at $2.74 on a lighter volume than usual of 720,000 shares. Stats NZ figures showed visitor arrivals shrank in February from a year earlier, with a steep drop in Chinese tourists during the Lunar New Year. Tourism Holdings fell 0.8 per cent to $5.05 on a volume of 72,000 shares, down on its 90-day average of 108,000.

Infratil rose 2.1 per cent to $4.30. First NZ Capital affirmed its 'neutral' rating for the stock today, while raising its target price to $4.37 on a higher valuation for the Canberra Data Centres and adjusting for the low interest rate environment.

Of companies in Infratil's portfolio, Trustpower fell 0.3 per cent to $6.98, and Tilt Renewables decreased 0.9 per cent to $2.30. Two of Wellington International Airport's five listed bonds traded today - its 4 per cent 2030 bond traded at an unchanged yield of 3.55 per cent, while its 5 per cent 2025 bonds traded at a yield of 3.26 per cent, up 5 basis points.

Restaurant Brands hit a record $9.30, and ended the day at $9.15, up 1.7 per cent. Mexico's Finaccess Capital paid $9.45 a share for 75 per cent of the fast food operator.

Chorus rose 0.8 per cent to $6.03 on a volume of 279,000, about half its 90-day average. The network operator will change its supply chain in response to an independent review of its subcontracting model which created vulnerabilities for migrant workers to be exploited. The changes won't require any variations to the company's contracts with Visionstream and UGC.

Advertisement

New Zealand Refining increased 0.5 percent to $2.08. The board and management told shareholders at today's annual meeting that they will provide a strategy update in June.

Outside the benchmark index, AFT Pharmaceuticals fell 2.2 per cent to $1.75 after the maker of Maxigesic got its intravenous painkiller licensed in Mexico and its tablets in Switzerland and Cyprus.

NZME rose 4.8 per cent to 55 cents on a volume of 2 million shares, its busiest day since September last year. That equates to about 1 per cent of NZME's issued stock. Auscap Asset Management is the company's biggest shareholder with a 19.3 per cent stake, followed by Renaissance Asset Management with 12 per cent and Forager Funds with 6.3 per cent.