New Zealand shares rose today, as investors played catch up to the Australian market which rose sharply on Thursday while the local market was closed for Waitangi Day.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 156.8 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 11,760.88. Within the index, 31 stocks rose, 17 fell and two were unchanged. Turnover was $219.8 million.

Overnight, global equities rebounded on the news that China's Ministry of Finance would halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 US goods and following better-than-expected US corporate earnings results and data.

Despite no conclusive signs the tide has turned against coronavirus, global markets have taken on a bolder mood regarding risk.


Matthew Goodson, director of Salt Fund Management, said the local market was catching up to the Australian S&P/ASX 200 Index which closed up 1.1 per cent.

"We were closed yesterday during a strong up day, so this is a period of catch up," he said.

"Interestingly, the Australian market, having been very strong the last several days, is actually down half a percent, with people refocusing on coronavirus and the sharp rise in the number of passengers on the cruise ship anchored off Japan that have caught it."

This new wave of coronavirus anxiety had dampened markets across Asia, though hadn't filtered through to New Zealand which was effectively running a day behind the region.

In early trading, the S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 1 per cent and Shanghai's Composite Index was down 0.6 per cent.

Kathmandu lead the market higher, rising 12.8 per cent to $3.44 on an above average volume of 1.6 million shares, following an announcement that sales rose 1.5 per cent, although margins declined.

Goodson said investors had been selling the stock as there was some nervousness about how the brand had performed during Christmas trading, since rival brand Macpac had been affected by the Australian bushfires.

"Kathmandu seems to have delivered moderate same-store sales growth, albeit at the expense of a little bit of gross margin," he said.


"So, a risk some investors have been fearing has been taken off the table."

Another stock with strong links to the Australian market, A2 Milk, rose 5 per cent to $15.36 on a volume of 823,000 shares.

Goodson said A2 milk, which is also listed on the ASX, saw big gains in Australia yesterday which was bringing the stock higher locally.

Fonterra Shareholders' Fund fell 1.3 per cent to $3.85 and Synlait Milk fell 1.5 per cent to $8.13.

Tourism stocks saw a bounce today, Auckland International Airport rose 2.9 per cent to $8.75 on an above average volume of 3.3 million shares, Air New Zealand rose 2 per cent to $2.80, SkyCity Entertainment Group rose 0.8 per cent to $3.62 on more than ten times its 90-day average volume trading almost 5 million shares, Tourism Holdings held at $3.

The airport scrambled late on Friday to respond to an urgent safety warning to airline pilots issued by their international representative body, claiming unplanned runway closures had been increasing. The airport said that it is undertaking a review.

Utilities were mostly strong today; Meridian Energy rose 3.2 per cent to $5.52, Mercury NZ rose 4 per cent to $5.30 and Contact Energy rose 0.4 per cent to $7.23.

Infratil fell 1.5 per cent to $5.45, letting go of some of Wednesday's gain from the announcement the company was investing in European green energy.

A stock tipped for growth in 2020, Pushpay Holdings, continued its upward trajectory rising 0.9 per cent to $4.54 on an above average volume of 1.1 million shares.

Another technology stock, Gentrack Group also rose, by 2.3 per cent to $2.19 on a volume of 975,000 shares.

Heartland Group posted the days biggest loss, falling 1.6 per cent to $1.85.

Salt's Goodson said earnings season starting next week could be difficult for the market as economic headwinds have been slowing corporate growth.

"Its not going to be the easiest of earnings seasons, given the economy has been relatively soft. It has been ultra-low rates and valuation multiple expansion rather than earnings that have been driving this market," he said.