New Zealand shares snapped a three-day gain, edging lower as investors pored through the details of Fletcher Building's investor briefing in which it confirmed a small capital return and noted Australian trading conditions remain tough.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index decreased 10.24 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 10,408.05. Within the index 21 stocks fell, 22 rose, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $121 million.
Fletcher slipped 0.8 per cent to $5.29 on a volume of 1.5 million shares, more than its 90-day average of 1.2 million. The company today unveiled plans to buy back as much as $300m of stock, affirmed its annual earnings and dividend, and said it doesn't expect to lift its provisioning for the troubled Building + Interiors division that experienced a cost blow-out in recent years.
Rickey Ward, New Zealand equity manager at JBWere, said the B+I news should have supported the stock, given there were concerns that the cost of its projects may rise further. However, investors latched on to the composition of earnings, with weak Australian trading conditions and the local residential unit benefitting from land sales, which Ward said was a regular part of its business.
"I don't know what is negative about that when it comes to messaging - it's only when you delve down that you can find something and everyone's homed in on its property sales," he said.
Ward said a number of investors were in Sydney for the Fletcher briefing, which meant the local trading session was relatively quiet.
Tourism Holdings led the market lower, down 3.8 per cent at $3.80 on a volume of 198,000 shares, more than its 158,000 average. The rental RV operator is raising $50m, having already placed $30m with China's Citic.
Arvida Group was the most traded stock on a volume of 6.8 million shares, well up on its 281,000 average. The retirement village operator resumed trading after the stock was halted yesterday for a $50m placement to help fund a $180m acquisition of three villages. It fell 2.2 per cent to $1.35.
Ward said there's a lot of support for firms to raise equity, with flush investors keen to support companies wanting to do something.
The stock market will get another boost in August, with Hawke's Bay Regional Council confirming a sell-down of its stake in Napier Port in an initial public offering in July and listing the following month. That follows the $10m IPO at 50 cents a share for medicinal cannabis firm Cannasouth, which listed earlier this month. The shares were down 2.7 per cent at 36 cents today.
NZX was unchanged at $1.10.
Among other companies trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Spark New Zealand fell 0.5 per cent to $3.88, Kiwi Property Group decreased 0.3 per cent to $1.625, and Meridian Energy increased 1.1 per cent to $4.78.
Trustpower posted the day's biggest gain, up 3.4 per cent at $7.25 on a smaller volume than usual of 52,000 shares. Utilities software developer Gentrack increased 2.4 per cent to $6 and Synlait Milk advanced 1.9 per cent to $9.37.
Outside the benchmark index, Tilt Renewables rose 3.4 per cent to $2.45 after saying it might sell its Snowtown 2 wind farm to help fund other developments.
Bank of New Zealand's 2020 bond paying annual interest of 4.43 per cent was the most traded debt security with a volume of almost 1.6 million changing hands. The notes closed at a yield of 1.69 per cent, up 1 basis point. ANZ Bank New Zealand's 2024 bond paying 3.03 per cent traded on a volume of about 1.2 million notes, closing at an unchanged yield of 2.25 per cent.
The Reserve Bank today kept the official cash rate at 1.5 per cent and signalled it will probably need to cut rates further.