New Zealand shares fell, joining a downbeat day across Asia as slowing Chinese growth stoked fears that trade tensions will dent the global economy. AMP slumped after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand blocked the sale of its life insurance business.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 34.87 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 10,666.56. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 24 rose, and four were unchanged. Turnover was $110.4 million.
Australasian stocks were largely weaker as investors fretted over the slowest pace of quarterly growth in China for 27 years, with New Zealand and Australia both reliant on selling exports to the world's most populous nation. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 0.4 per cent in afternoon trading.
"China's GDP growth is probably the worst we've seen since the early 90s — it's a mixed bag across Asia and we're part of that," said Peter McIntyre, an investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.
McIntyre said the upcoming earnings season will come under scrutiny because of the slowing Chinese growth, with a particular emphasis on what impact companies anticipate from the US-China trade tensions.
Local exporters were among the day's decliners, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare down 1.3 per cent at $15.74, Pushpay Holdings falling 1.8 per cent to $3.34, and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units dropping 2 per cent to $3.84.
McIntyre said the recent increase in swap rates was undermining the appeal of companies held for their reliable dividends. Meridian Energy, a major beneficiary of the yield story, led the market lower, down 3.1 per cent at $4.67. Mercury NZ was down 2 per cent at $4.555 and Spark New Zealand declined 1.1 per cent to $3.925. Ryman Healthcare was the most traded stock on a volume of 3.4 million shares. It decreased 0.4 per cent to $12.60. Sky Network Television increased 0.9 per cent to $1.16.
Infratil fell 0.2 per cent to $4.73 after saying its Longroad Energy investment secured financing for a wind farm in Texas. The infrastructure investor has drawn more interest since tabling plans to buy Vodafone New Zealand as part of a consortium. Tourism Holdings was the day's biggest gainer, up 2.2 per cent at $3.75. Metlifecare rose 2.1 per cent to $4.45.
NZX rose 1.7 per cent to $1.17 after Napier Port lodged its offer document to raise up to a net $110 million in an initial public offering.
Outside the benchmark index, dual-listed financial services firm AMP tumbled 14 per cent to $1.91 after saying the planned A$3.3 billion sale of its life unit was highly unlikely due to stipulations required by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group decreased 1.1 per cent to $28.28, and Westpac Banking Group was down 1 per cent at $29.05.
Also outside the main index, PGG Wrightson was unchanged at 55 cents.