New Zealand shares fell as Sky Network Television was routed by the loss of its rights to broadcast domestic cricket matches, the stock slumping to an all-time low in heavy trading.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index declined 54.13 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 10,886.73. Within the index, 27 stocks fell, 19 rose, and four were unchanged. Turnover was $145.3 million.

Sky sank 20.7 per cent to 88 cents on a volume of 3.3 million shares, more than four times its 90-day average of 814,000. The pay-TV operator lost the rights to broadcast cricket played domestically after being outbid by rival Spark New Zealand at a time when Sky's market value of $365m hinders its ability to make big offers without having to ask shareholders for permission.

"They may have to increase what they pay for other content to hang on to it and it does create a real question mark for the business," said Shane Solly, a portfolio manager at Harbour Asset Management. Sky will ask shareholders for greater freedom when bidding to retain the SAANZAR rugby rights, which end late 2020, at next week's annual meeting.


Spark fell 2.9 per cent to $4.48 on a volume of 2.5 million shares, less than its 3.1 million average. The telecommunications company's gambit for cricket comes at a time when its ability to live-stream sports has been questioned by unhappy customers of its Rugby World Cup coverage. It has attracted 186,000 subscribers.

Chorus posted the day's biggest gain, up 2.2 per cent at $5.15 on a volume of 1.5 million shares, well up on its 521,000 average. It yesterday reported record demand for fibre connections in the September quarter and noted increased data usage from the rugby live-streaming.

The market was generally weaker as investors navigate waxing and waning optimism as to whether US and Chinese trade officials will make any headway in this week's negotiations. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was up 0.2 per cent in afternoon trading, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.2 per cent, and South Korea's Kospi 200 Index dropped 1.1 per cent.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which derives half its revenue in US dollars, fell 3 per cent to $16.90. Global logistics group Mainfreight declined 1 per cent to $38.50 and fruit exporter Scales Corp was down 0.8 per cent at $4.95.

Fletcher Building was the most traded stock on a volume of 7 million shares, more than five times its 1.4 million average. It fell 1.3 per cent to $4.74.

Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Mercury NZ rose 0.4 per cent to $5.50, Contact Energy fell 0.7 per cent to $8.97, Kiwi Property Group decreased 0.9 per cent to $1.65 and Goodman Property Trust increased to $2.24.

A2 Milk rose 0.8 per cent to $12.91, Meridian Energy was up 1.2 per cent at $5.275, Ryman Healthcare advanced 1.2 per cent to $13.15, and Port of Tauranga increased 1.1 per cent to $6.45.

Outside the benchmark index, Evolve Education fell 2.5 per cent to 11.6 cents after saying it will reduce board fees by 16.7 per cent from December. Managing director Chris Scott is still reviewing the entire business operations.


Augusta Capital rose 2 per cent to $1.52 after it said its partnership with Melbourne-based Ninety Four Feet has signed a binding agreement with Queenstown Lakes District Council for a seven-stage development over 10 years.

Colonial Motor Co fell 2.3 per cent, or 21 cents, to $8.87 after shedding rights to a 30-cent dividend.