New Zealand shares extended their gain as Mainfreight and A2 Milk Co hit highs on strong demand for the export-focused stocks that have reliably outperformed expectations. Sky Network Television led the market higher.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 42.56 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 10,867.25. Within the index, 21 stocks increased, 18 fell, and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $83.7 million.

The benchmark index gained for a fifth day as the international environment for low interest rates continues to drive demand for equities, especially stocks paying reliable dividends.

Heavyweight stocks Mainfreight and A2 were among the day's biggest gainers as investors remained optimistic both firms will continue their track record of beating expectations. Mainfreight rose as high as $42.73 and ended the day up 2.5 per cent at a record close $42.02 on a volume of 58,000 shares. Its 90-day average is 64,000.

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"The Mainfreight story is one that everyone is talking about," said Rickey Ward, NZ equity manager at JBWere. "It just shows you if you're a good company that keeps delivering, you're going to be rewarded."

A2 climbed 1.9 per cent to $17.45, having hit an all-time high $17.57. Volume was 443,000 shares, down from its 727,000 average.

Ward said A2 was another company that has attracted strong support heading into next month's earnings season, with investors anticipating the milk marketing firm will continue its trend of under-promising and over-delivering.

Sky TV led the market higher for a second day, up 3.3 per cent at $1.26 on 262,000 shares, less than its 1.2 million average. The shares hit a record low last week.

Electricity generator-retailer shares were largely unmoved by the Electricity Authority's new transmission pricing methodology, which aims to charge consumers based on the benefit they receive from transmission projects.

Ward said the low interest rate environment trumped potential regulatory impacts, as investors are pushed into taking on equity risk to maintain a stable return on investment.

Genesis Energy rose 0.9 per cent to $3.44, Meridian Energy increased 0.2 per cent to $4.94 on a volume of 1.4 million shares, Trustpower was unchanged at $7.50, Mercury NZ was unchanged at $4.75 and Contact Energy decreased 0.5 per cent to $7.81. Lines company Vector was unchanged at $3.86.

Stride Property was the most traded stock on a volume of 1.8 million shares, well up on its 277,000 average. It was unchanged at $2.25. Spark New Zealand increased 0.4 per cent to $3.905 on a volume of 1.7 million shares, less than its 4 million average. Kiwi Property decreased 0.3 per cent to $1.61 on a volume of 1.6 million.

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Infratil rose 0.2 per cent to $4.76 on a volume of 1.1 million shares, more than its 709,000 average.

Synlait Milk posted the day's biggest fall, down 1.5 per cent at $9.65 on a volume of 51,000, less than half its 110,000 average. Pushpay declined 1.5 per cent to $3.40, Gentrack was down 1.3 per cent at $5.97 and Fletcher Building decreased 1.2 per cent to $4.86.

Outside the benchmark index, PGG Wrightson declined 1.8 per cent to 54 cents after shareholders approved a $234m capital return from the sale of its seeds division to DLF Seeds.

ANZ Bank New Zealand's September 2020 bond paying annual interest of 4.03 per cent was the most traded debt security on a volume of 492,000. The notes closed at a yield of 1.64 per cent, down 10 basis points. Dual-listed parent Australia & New Zealand Banking Group's shares rose 1.1 per cent to $28.63.