New Zealand shares rose, led by growth stocks Synlait Milk and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. Comvita soared on news its former chief executive will put its under-performing units under the microscope.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 30.94 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 9,987. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 17 fell, and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $108.9 million.

Synlait led the market higher, up 2.5 per cent at $8.75 on a volume of 189,000 shares, slightly more than its 90-day average of 121,000 shares. The gain ended four straight declines, rising from a six-month low. The milk processor often tracks with A2 Milk, which it supplies, but has also been beset by a covenant that may prevent it from opening a second factory. A2 was up 0.2 per cent at $14.28.

Among other growth stocks lifting the index higher, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 2.4 per cent to $15.45, and Tourism Holdings was up 1.9 per cent at $3.82. Gentrack Group increased 1.2 per cent, or 6 cents, to $5.30 after shedding rights to a 5 cent dividend.


Outside the benchmark index, Comvita soared 13 per cent to $3.52, extending a recovery from a five-year low. Chief executive Scott Coulter today signalled his exit, and former CEO Brett Hewlett will take on a temporary executive role to run the ruler of the honey products maker's under-performing units.

"Finally we've got some news for investors - it's more on a promise than anything too substantial, but the share price is tracking up," said Grant Davies, an investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

NZX was unchanged at $1.05 on an unusually large volume of 1.5 million shares after its Smartshares unit listed eight new exchange-traded funds. Among the ETFs, which are backed by global asset manager BlackRock, were two thematic funds. The Smartshares Health Innovation Fund rose 0.9 per cent to $2.33, while the Smartshares Automation and Robotics ETF increased 0.9 per cent to $2.70.

Davies said the new thematic ETFs will give investors some interesting areas to get exposure.

"From the NZX's position, even through it owns the products, it's nice to have something new," he said.

Goodman Property Trust was the most traded stock on a volume of 2.4 million units, more than twice its 850,000 average. It fell 1.1 per cent to $1.81. Spark New Zealand decreased 0.8 per cent to $3.675 on a volume of 2.4 million shares, less than half its usual volume.

Kiwi Property Group fell 1.9 per cent to $1.53, the day's biggest decline, on a volume of 1.2 million shares.

Among other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Air New Zealand decreased 0.4 per cent to $2.57, Auckland International Airport was unchanged at $8.82, Mercury NZ slipped 0.4 per cent to $3.885, Genesis Energy was unchanged at $3.10, and Meridian Energy increased 1.6 per cent to $4.35.


Of stocks going ex-dividend, Investore Property fell 1.1 per cent, or 2 cents, to $1.76 shedding rights to a 1.94 cent dividend, Sanford fell 0.9 per cent, or 6 cents, to $6.94 shedding rights to a 9 cent dividend, and Ryman Healthcare was down 0.9 per cent, or 10 cents, giving up rights to an 11.9 cent dividend.

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units increased 0.3 per cent to $4 and Fonterra Cooperative Group's farmer-only shares fell 0.3 per cent to $4 after Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor outlined plans to change the dairy sector's governing legislation. Among the changes, Fonterra will be able to veto some applications under its open-entry provision to accept all milk supply. Another will see the minister nominate a member of the milk price panel.

Bank of New Zealand's 2020 bond paying annual interest of 4.43 per cent was the most traded debt security on a volume of 475,000 notes. It closed at a yield of 1.76 per cent, down 4 basis points.