New Zealand shares bounced back from a six-day downturn as investors found hope in speculation central banks around the world may be planning to coordinate an economic response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 242.88 points, or 2.2 per cent, to 11,346.31. Within the index, 41 stocks rose, seven fell, and two remained unchanged. Turnover was $228.7 million.
Markets had been shaken by the continued spread of covid-19 and its impact on global growth, but sentiment turned positive after the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank suggested they were all ready to act. And today, the Reserve Bank of Australia cut its target cash rate 25 basis points to a record low 0.5 per cent.
Asian markets followed a strong lead on Wall Street where the three main indices all ended close to 5 per cent higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.8 per cent and Shanghai's SSEC rose 1.4 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 0.8 per cent.
Grant Davies, an investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene, said the positive lead from Wall Street had flowed through to the local market and was the driving factor ahead of the RBA announcement.
"We started with a hiss and a roar and have held our ground reasonably well – looking to close up above 2 per cent."
Davies said the RBA's decision to cut the key rate increased the pressure on New Zealand to do the same. That provided an extra incentive for investors to buy into local utilities, he said.
"Lower interest rates are very good for anything that pays a consistent dividend and thankfully for investors in the NZX more generally there are plenty of those sorts of companies on there," he said.
Telecommunications network operator Chorus led the market higher, increasing 5.1 per cent to a record $7.07.
Other utilities also climbed following the RBA announcement. Meridian Energy rose 4.6 per cent to $4.81 with 2.1 million shares traded, Genesis Energy gained 3.7 per cent to $3.07 and Mercury NZ rose 1.1 per cent to $4.65. Only Contact Energy fell, down 0.2 per cent to $6.59.
New Zealand Refining Company held at $1.16, but shareholder Z Energy rose 5 per cent to $4.23 on a volume of 2.5 million shares.
Port of Tauranga gained 4.1 per cent at $6.54 on a volume of 400,000 shares, after being sold off 4 per cent yesterday. The port is expecting lower earnings this year, as efforts to control the spread of the virus has throttled exports.
Davies said the number of the stocks jumping almost 5 per cent today were stocks that had been hit hard in recent days.
Exporters also recovered lost ground. Skellerup Holdings rose 4.2 per cent to $2.01, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare increased 1.3 per cent to $25.94, Scales Corporation gained 1.2 per cent to $4.15 and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units rose 1 per cent to $3.92.
However, Synlait Milk fell 1.8 per cent to $5.50 posting the biggest loss of the day.
Air New Zealand clawed back some of its recent losses, rising 3.4 per cent to $2.16, but was still down 12.5 per cent from a week ago.
"Airlines are having a lot of specials and are staring at a loss of demand," Davies said.
"That will be in play for the foreseeable future until the world gets a handle on the outbreak – which won't be tomorrow."
Auckland International Airport gained 3.4 per cent to $7.85, and Tourism Holdings increased 4.2 per cent to $2.50.
Outside the NZX50, beer and cider maker Moa Group fell 7.7 per cent to 25 cents after downgrading its forecast annual operating profit from $3.6m to between $1m and $1.5m.
Davies said the New Zealand market was along for the ride with global markets, although it mostly experienced less dramatic movements.
"The volatility we have seen has not been the same level as what we are seeing internationally. So, we are moving around, but not to the same degree."