New Zealand shares rose as investors welcomed Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement that the economy would reopen over the next 10 days. Sky Network Television led the market higher, joined by retail, entertainment and travel companies.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 65.7 points, or 0.6 percent, to 10,760.29. Within the index, 30 stocks rose, 10 fell, and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $140 million.

New Zealand will move out of alert level 3 lockdown on Thursday this week, although a phased approach means bars will have to wait another week before opening on May 21.

From Thursday, retail shops, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds, gyms and health services will be allowed to open, along with domestic travel around the country.


The local market followed a strong lead from Wall Street on Friday and crept higher in the lead up to Ardern's much-anticipated announcement.

Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners, said the announcement lived up to expectations and the market held onto early gains in retail and leisure stocks.

"The stocks that are up today are the ones you'd expect to be up as we get one step closer to returning to normality," he said.

Sky TV led the market higher, climbing 20.3 percent to 38.5 cents. Lister said having the economy back on track is positive for a discretionary spending business like pay-TV. The resumption of professional sport is likely to be a boon for the struggling company, with Super Rugby Aotearoa to kick off on June 13.

Retailer Kathmandu Holdings rose 15.2 percent to $1.06.

"Anyone in the retail space will be chomping at the bit to be able to open their doors and sell their products to people rather than being limited to online," Lister said.

Vista Group International increased 8 percent to $1.35. Lister said the international focus of the company meant it was not a direct beneficiary of the announcement, despite movie theatres reopening. The rise was attributable to the 'feel-good factor" boosting investor sentiment.

"It's a reminder to people that this won't last forever, at some point we will go back to doing the things we used to do," he said.


SkyCity Entertainment Group advanced 6 percent to $2.64 with the casino operator positioned to take advantage of demand for hospitality and entertainment returning to the economy.

While the group is poised to reopen when current lockdown restrictions are eased further, chief executive Graeme Stephens said the landscape has fundamentally changed. The group is looking to lay off a further 700 people due to impact of covid-19, on top of the 200 it announced last month.

Travel stocks also rallied on the move, which would let domestic travel resume. Auckland International Airport rose 5.2 percent to $5.975 and Air New Zealand increased 3.3 percent to $1.27.

Tourism Holdings advanced 3.8 percent to $1.66 and corporate travel management software company, Serko Limited rose 11.1 percent to $2.80.

These dramatic gains were partially offset by the benchmark's two largest stocks - both exporters - dipping lower.

A2 Milk fell 1.6 percent to $19.21 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare slipped 1.1 percent to $29.48.

Lister said while the marginally stronger kiwi dollar may be taking the wind out of the sails for the companies, investors were also locking in recent gains from the two firms.

"For the most part, it is nothing more complicated than they've just had a stellar run this year," Lister said.

"Investors are still looking to take a bit of profit from those strong performers and redistribute into some stocks that look better value."

Z Energy today announced plans to raise up to $350 million to reduce debt and stabilise the business for a tough year ahead by offering almost 106 million shares through a placement at a floor price of $2.75. The shares are halted for a bookbuild to price the underwritten placement. They closed on Friday at $3.14, having fallen about 49 percent over the past 12 months.

Outside the benchmark index, NZME rose 14 percent to 24.5 cents after announcing it was lobbying the government to let it buy rival Stuff for a dollar. This blindsided Nine Entertainment Co which thought the deal was off and rebuffed the announcement. NZME insisted the talks were still on.