The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell back below 10,000 after becoming the most expensive across Asia based on forward-looking metrics. Blue-chip stocks including Spark New Zealand, Goodman Property Trust and Ryman Healthcare were among those sold down today.
The benchmark index declined 77.17 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 9,994.57. Within the index, 33 stocks fell, seven rose, and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $124.7 million.
The NZX50 broke through the 10,000 level this week, as the Easter and Anzac holidays thinned out trading rooms. The index is up 14 per cent so far this year, with the prospect of low interest rates lasting for even longer supporting demand for companies offering reliable dividends. That has helped push the likes of Chorus, Meridian Energy, Mercury NZ and Genesis Energy to records.
The utilities were mixed today, with Meridian posting the biggest gain on the day, up 1.2 per cent at $4.14 on a volume of 1.1 million shares. Chorus was up 0.2 per cent at $6.255, Genesis fell 0.7 per cent to $3.07 and Mercury was down 1.7 per cent at $3.80.
The average dividend yield on the NZX50 is the third-highest among Asia-Pacific benchmark indices tracked by Refinitiv, however, a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 22.65 makes the local bourse the most expensive in the region.
Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets, said the holidays had affected trading this week with a lot of people taking leave around the Easter and Anzac Day holidays to extend their break.
That left the local market following international leads. While strong US earnings had supported stocks, the upcoming US GDP reading will be closely watched to see if the economic data backs up corporate results.
"That could give a bit of a lift to our market next week. The NZX50 has gone through the 10,000 mark and that will be a guide to see whether it will hold."
Ryman led the market lower, down 3.3 per cent at $11.89 on a volume of 640,000 shares, more than its 444,000 three-monthly average. Goodman Property Trust dipped 0.3 per cent to $1.725 on a volume of 3.4 million units, more than five-times its 90-day average of 608,000.
Spark New Zealand dropped 2.3 per cent to $3.585 on a volume of 5.8 million shares and was the most traded stock on the market. The telecommunications company attracted more criticism over an outage on its new sports streaming platform during the trans-Tasman Anzac Day hockey test.
Smith said Spark has to iron out those problems on the platform, which could dent the telco's reputation if it happened during the Rugby World Cup. Spark's success or failure in hosting that event will have a lot of bearing for Sky Network Television, which is trying to reposition itself as the broadcasting home of sports, he said. Sky shares fell 2.4 per cent to $1.24 on a volume of 780,000.
Of other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Contact Energy rose 0.6 per cent to $6.75 and Kiwi Property Group increased 1 per cent to $1.525.
Air New Zealand declined 1.1 per cent to $2.72. Its turbine business won a US$17m contract with the US Navy, taking its total work with the maritime defence force to US$55m since 2017.