New Zealand shares joined a global rally as the upcoming preliminary trade deal between the US and China underpinned optimism about global growth, and revived confidence in tech stocks such as Gentrack.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 81.46 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 11,625.13. Within the index, 28 stocks rose, 15 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $173.7 million.

Stocks across Asia were largely stronger as investors took the US decision to stop calling China a currency manipulator as a major step in de-escalating tensions between the world's two biggest economies.

Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at AxiTrader, said the strengthening Chinese yuan was the best gauge of the market's view on US-China trade tensions, and that recent appreciation indicated further improvement.


"With the US reversing its decision to brand China a currency manipulator, it is a most precise and definitive de-escalation of trade tension to date and provides a less congested road as we pivot to phase two of the broader trade agreement," Innes said in a note.

Tech stocks such as Apple, Microsoft and Netflix supported Wall Street's gain overnight, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 0.7 per cent in afternoon trading, led higher by growth stocks.

"The local market's going up with positive leads from Wall Street on the back of more optimism about trade," said Grant Davies, an investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Utilities software developer Gentrack led the local market higher, up 2.9 per cent at $3.94 on a volume of 1.4 million shares, well up on its 90-day average of 162,000 shares. Among other software firms, Pushpay Holdings advanced 1.2 per cent to $4.37, Vista Group International rose 0.3 per cent to $3.46 on a volume of 1.7 million, Eroad slipped 0.3 per cent to $3.19 and Serko was down 1 per cent at $5.08.

Breathing mask maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which was the strongest stock on the top 50 index last year, rose 2.2 per cent to $21.85.

Spark New Zealand edged up 0.2 per cent to $4.55 on a volume of 2.3 million shares and Chorus increased 0.2 per cent to $6.44 after the government confirmed the auction parameters for the interim 5G radio spectrum. Infratil, which owns half of Vodafone New Zealand, increased 1.7 per cent to $5.36.

Metlifecare was the most traded stock on a volume of 7.2 million shares, almost 14 times its 521,000 average. It rose 0.3 per cent to $6.89, nudging closer to the $7 takeover price.

Meridian Energy increased 1.8 per cent to $5.15 on a volume of 2.3 million shares.


Of other stocks trading on volumes of more than a million shares, Precinct Properties New Zealand increased 0.98 per cent to $1.865, Goodman Property Trust rose 1.8 per cent to $2.26 and Fletcher Building was up 1.5 per cent at $5.30.

Of listed bonds trading on volumes of more than a million, ANZ Bank New Zealand's September 2020 notes paying annual interest of 4.03 per cent closed at an unchanged yield of 1.46 per cent.

Synlait Milk fell 2 per cent to $8.72 in the day's biggest decline, on a volume of 40,000 shares, less than its 101,000 average.

A2 Milk fell 1.4 per cent to $14.55 and Z Energy declined 1.7 per cent to $4.52.

Air New Zealand increased 0.5 per cent to $3.02. Today, chief people officer Jodie King announced her departure to take up a role at Vodafone. She will leave by the end of the financial year in June.

Oceania Healthcare slipped 0.8 per cent to $1.30. Its chief financial officer Matthew Ward announced his resignation today and will finish up at the aged care provider at the end of March.

Outside the benchmark index, Truscreen rose 1 per cent to 9.7 cents after the cervical cancer test maker said a screening trial in India compared well to a pap test trial and was important in entering the Indian market.