New Zealand's benchmark index climbed back above 10,000, led by Synlait Milk, on news the dairy company is appealing a ruling that may prevent the opening of its second processing facility.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 0.6 per cent to 10,047.82. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, 15 fell, and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $103.2 million with just six stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares.
Synlait rose 4 per cent to $9.10 on a volume of 102 shares, below its 90-day average of 123,000. The milk processor said it's appealing to the Supreme Court in an effort to get covenants removed from land where it's all but completed a processing factory in Pokeno. The company is still pursuing a commercial solution to the dispute.
Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said Synlait has also been weighed down by A2 Milk's performance in recent days as investors pondered the impact of China's goal of lifting its internal production of infant formula. A2 increased 0.8 per cent to $14.40 on 433,000 shares, a smaller volume than usual.
"Synlait is back up above where it started the week, but is still well off its highs," he said.
Equity markets were generally stronger across Asia Pacific, although the uncertainty around US trade policy kept activity relatively quiet. The most heavily traded local stocks were widely held blue-chip companies, such as Spark New Zealand and Fletcher Building, and stocks held for their yield, such as property companies and utilities.
Fletcher increased 2.1 per cent to $5.27 on a volume 1.5 million, more than its 1.2 million average. Williamson said it was bouncing back from the earnings downgrade earlier this week which was due to the early settlement of its Formica divestment.
Genesis Energy was the most traded stock on a volume of 3.4 million shares, well north of its 519,000 average. It was unchanged at $3.10. Spark rose 3 per cent to $3.785 on a volume of 2.7 million shares, about half its usual volume, and Contact Energy rose 0.5 per cent to $7.50 on 2 million shares. Meridian Energy increased 0.7 per cent to $4.38 on a volume of 1.4 million and Goodman Property Trust was unchanged at $1.81 with 1 million units changing hands.
Auckland International Airport posted the day's biggest decline, down 1.5 per cent at $8.69 on a volume of 445,000 shares, less than half its 90-day average. Air New Zealand fell 0.8 per cent to $2.55, New Zealand Refining decreased 0.5 per cent to $2.06, and Z Energy was down 0.2 per cent at $5.99. The four companies have been participating at the three-day public inquiry into the 2017 refinery-to-Auckland pipeline failure.
Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units decreased 0.3 per cent to $3.99 on a volume of 333,000, more than its 222,000 average. Fonterra Cooperative Group's farmer-owned shares were also down 0.3 per cent at $3.99. The government yesterday announced its planned changes to the dairy sector's governing legislation, which Fonterra gave a mixed response to.
Mercury NZ decreased 0.1 per cent to $3.88 after announcing plans to raise up to $300m in a subordinated capital bond offer. If the offer goes ahead and is successful, Mercury plans to use the funds to redeem $300m of existing listed debt that's currently paying annual interest of 6.9 per cent. The rate on the existing 2044 bonds was reset in July, and closed at a yield of 2.55 per cent, down 125 basis points.
Chorus's 2028 bonds paying annual interest of 4.35 per cent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 796,000 notes. It closed at a yield of 3.14 per cent, up 1 basis point. Chorus shares rose 1.6 per cent to $5.80.