New Zealand shares were broadly stronger, joining the upbeat mood across Asia. SkyCity Entertainment Group hit a seven-week low as a fire atop the firm's new international convention centre raged throughout the day.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 27.64 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 11,090.39. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 21 fell and six were unchanged. Turnover was $96.3 million with just four stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares.
Asian markets followed Wall Street higher as investors took heart from positive noises about the US-China trade talks. US President Donald Trump said a deal was coming along nicely and China's vice foreign minister Le Yucheng said that progress had been made. South Korea's Kospi 200 Index was up 1.3 per cent in afternoon trading, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 per cent, and Singapore's Straits Times Index advanced 0.8 per cent.
James Lindsay, a portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management, said the local market was following international leads ahead of September balance date reporting season next month.
"Trade wars haven't really had a substantial impact here and we're probably lucky that things like the farmgate milk price was up by 30 cents this morning. Things like that help."
Fonterra Cooperative Group raised its forecast farmgate milk price range to $6.55-7.55 per kilogram of milk solids, citing firm demand for whole milk powder and strong prices for skim milk powder. Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units, which give investors exposure to Fonterra's earnings stream, rose 1.3 per cent to $4.04.
A2 Milk Co was up 1 per cent at $13.07, while rival dairy processor Synlait Milk fell 1.7 per cent to $9.50. Skellerup Holdings, whose suite of goods includes agricultural products, was up 2.2 per cent at $2.30.
Air New Zealand fell 0.5 per cent to $2.825 after its monthly operating figures confirmed the slowdown in domestic passenger growth that the airline had signalled earlier this year. Auckland International Airport rose 0.9 per cent to $9.165. Last week its monthly passenger figures showed a small dip in August volumes.
Lindsay said the Air New Zealand and Auckland Airport figures suggested a slowing of some drivers, but that the airline was in an okay position compared to its peers.
"I don't think there's any particular change in the way we're seeing the slowing of a number of variables in New Zealand," he said.
Summerset Group posted the day's biggest gain, up 2.9 per cent at $6.77 on a volume of just 66,000 shares, about a fifth of its average 330,000 average.
SkyCity fell as low as $3.82 and ended the day down 2.8 per cent at $3.87. About 1.5 million shares changed hands, more than twice its 90-day average of 619,000. The slide was a knee-jerk response to headlines of the fire that engulfed the convention centre construction site.
Grant Davies, an investment advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said it was too early to judge how much of an impact the fire would have on the already-delayed project.
"A lot of people are operating on rumour and just guessing. Is there is an argument for trading to be halted until there's more certainty? It's a grey area," Davies said.
Fletcher Building was down 1.5 per cent at $4.65 on a volume of 3.5 million shares, more than its 1.5 million average. However, the building stock has been trading on increased volumes recently with the price under pressure as investors weigh up whether it will be removed from an MSCI index in an upcoming reweighting.
Mercury NZ, which is expected to enter the MSCI index, fell 0.9 per cent to $5.45 on a volume of 1 million shares.
Sky Network Television fell 3.7 per cent to $1.04, posting the day's biggest decline, on a volume of just 187,000 shares, well short of its 1.2 million average. The pay-TV operator today extended its rights to broadcast Netball NZ's domestic competitions and Silver Ferns matches for another three years to 2024.
Spark New Zealand, which has been aggressively competing for sports broadcasting rights, decreased 0.4 per cent to $4.56 on a volume of 1.4 million shares.
Goodman Property Trust increased 0.2 per cent to $2.24 after it said the retail component of its capital raising was oversubscribed and will be scaled. It had targeted $15m from retail unitholders with scope to accept an additional $10m of subscriptions and ended up with $35m of applications.
Outside the benchmark index, PGG Wrightson rose 1.2 percent to $2.51 after affirming expectations for earnings growth at today's annual meeting.
Wellington Drive Technologies jumped 15.2 per cent to 19.7 cents after it reported a $580,000 profit in the nine months ended September 30, and raised its annual operating earnings guidance.