New Zealand shares outperformed Asia as companies offering reliable dividends helped lift the benchmark index to a record. Meridian Energy and Z Energy led the market higher.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 86.29 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 10,741.09, an all-time high. Within the index, 32 stocks rose, 11 fell, and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $110.0 million.
The NZX50 was the best performer across the 22 Asian equity indices tracked by Refinitiv and one of just four that was in positive territory. On average, it has the third-highest dividend yield at 4.54 per cent, with a high number of infrastructure, property and utilities companies. It has gained 22 per cent so far this year, pipped only by China's Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 index.
"The yields on a lot of those companies have dropped as the share prices have risen, but people are still attracted to those consistent dividends," said Grant Davies, an investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene.
Meridian led the market higher, up 2.9 per cent at $4.90 on a volume of 1.6 million shares, more than its 90-day average of 1.4 million. Z Energy rose 2.1 per cent to $6.35 and Auckland International Airport increased 2 per cent to $9.66.
Mercury NZ advanced 1.1 per cent to $4.63 after saying it relied on peaking capacity of its Waikato hydro generation in the June quarter, in a period when low lake inflows sapped production. Trustpower was unchanged at $7.27, Contact Energy rose 1.5 per cent to $7.89 and Genesis Energy was up 0.9 per cent at $3.48.
Spark New Zealand increased 1.6 per cent to $3.94 after welcoming the Commerce Commission's confirmation that it will deregulate the telecommunications company's resale copper voice services. The move was signalled in a draft decision earlier this year. The stock traded on 1.6 million shares, well down on its 4.2 million average.
Network operator Chorus fell 1.1 per cent to $5.48 on 896,000 shares, more than its 494,000 average.
Kiwi Property Group was the most traded stock on a volume of about 2 million shares. It increased by 0.3 per cent to $1.605. Fletcher Building fell 1.6 per cent to $4.91 on a volume of almost 2 million shares, more than twice its 973,000 average.
Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Precinct Properties New Zealand increased 0.3 per cent to $1.775, Air New Zealand was up 0.9 per cent at $2.775, and Goodman Property Trust advanced 0.8 per cent to $2.015.
Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units reported the biggest decline, down 2 per cent at $3.85 with just 21,000 units changing hands, down on its 192,000 average. Fonterra Cooperative Group's farmer-owned shares fell 1.8 per cent to $3.86. The dairy exporter today said it will accelerate its sustainability strategy by calling an immediate halt to installing new coal boilers or increasing capacity to burn coal.
Synlait Milk rose 2 per cent to $9.64 and A2 Milk Co was up 0.5 per cent at $16.79.
Dual-listed lenders Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp were both weaker after Fitch Ratings downgraded the outlooks for both banks' credit ratings. ANZ was down 1 per cent at $28.20 and Westpac fell 0.7 per cent to $28.82. AMP fell 1.1 per cent to $1.85, extending its decline this week since it said the A$3.3 billion sale of its life insurance unit was unlikely to go ahead due to Reserve Bank of New Zealand criteria for the transaction.
Outside the benchmark index, Asset Plus was unchanged at 64 cents after announcing the $29.1m sale of a property in Hastings. Augusta Capital, which manages the real estate investor, was also unchanged, at $1.35.
Mercury NZ's capital bonds paying annual interest of 3.6 per cent were the most traded debt security on a volume of 610,000. The yield was unchanged at 3.17 per cent.