New Zealand shares rose for a third day as the US$2 trillion ($3.4t) stimulus package bolsters investor confidence that governments are throwing everything at the Covid-19 pandemic.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 368.09 points, or 4 per cent, to 9,632.47. Within the index, 43 stocks gained, six fell, and one was unchanged. Turnover was $210 million.

US policymakers are finalising a massive bailout for the world's biggest economy, providing support to businesses and workers as Covid-19 spreads. Governments around the world have rolled out major packages to soften the economic blow as they impose lockdowns to limit the infection.

Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets, said the stimulus package helps ease fears about the economic damage being wrought by the pandemic, but it was far too soon to call a bottom.


"It's been a couple of good days after a traumatic few weeks," he said.

Smith expects a levelling off in global infection rates will see volatility in financial markets subside. However, the ultimate cost to nations will depend on how long restrictions such as New Zealand's lockdown stay in place.

"There's going to be a huge economic cost, paid by us and future generations," he said.

Stocks that have been beat up in recent months led the market higher.

Gentrack Group, which develops software for utilities and airports, jumped 29.9 per cent to $1, while rental campervan operator Tourism Holdings climbed 23.9 per cent to $1.09.

Smith said the length of the lockdown will have a bearing on tourism operators.

Skellerup Holdings jumped 23.6 per cent to $1.73, Oceania Healthcare was up 11.5 per cent at 58 cents, Precinct Properties New Zealand rose 10.7 per cent to $1.655 and Property for Industry advanced 10.2 per cent to $2.06.

Air New Zealand was again the most traded stock on a volume of 10.8 million shares, compared to its 90-day average of 1.7 million. It rose 2.3 per cent to 89 cents after saying it will operate a limited international network, but is working with the government to keep transport lines open. The carrier has also been chartered by the German government to fly Germans home from Canada.


Auckland International Airport rose 6.4 per cent to $5.80 after saying it has put $2b of capital spending projects on hold, and is investigating ways to reduce staff pay and hours.

Port of Tauranga was up 3.9 per cent at $6.13. It withdrew annual earnings guidance due to forestry exports being designated non-essential cargo.

Metlifecare sank 21.5 per cent to $3.79 as investors questioned whether a $7 per share takeover offer would go ahead. The retirement village operator today said suitor EQT was considering the impact of the pandemic, and reserving its legal and contractual rights. Metlifecare said it didn't think there were grounds for an out-clause to be triggered.

Smith said a number of merger and acquisition deals had fallen over in recent days as the rapid shift in conditions made buyers rethink their purchases.

Z Energy fell 3.3 per cent to $2.89 and Fletcher Building was down 3.3 per cent at $3.26.

Outside the benchmark index, Warehouse Group fell 3.5 per cent to $1.95. The retailer apologised for jumping the gun in claiming its Red Shed stores were deemed essential services, and withdrew its earnings guidance.

Smith said he was surprised by how small the decline was, given it had soared 40 per cent from an all-time low when it said those stores would stay open.

Augusta Capital dropped 18.7 per cent to 97.5 cents after its $180m takeover fell through when ASX-listed Centuria Capital pulled out of the proposed purchase.

TIL Logistics was unchanged at 70 cents after withdrawing its earnings guidance due to the virus outbreak. It has been deemed an essential service.