The energy stocks, without the buying support of the overseas exchange traded funds, faltered for the second day running as the New Zealand sharemarket dropped nearly one per cent.
With profit-taking still prevalent, the S&P/NZX 50 Index closed down 106.40 points or 0.8 per cent to 13,183.69 on steady volume of 49.8 million share transactions worth $164.56m. There were 56 gainers and 81 decliners over the whole market.
Matt Goodson, managing director of Salt Funds Management, said the market had such a hard run driven by the US and UK exchange traded funds flows into Meridian and Contact and a little bit of pull-back is hardly surprising.
"Trading is seasonally light and directionless and you'll find a lot of the index fall is related to the gentailers rather than anyone else. There was a weak lead from the US markets with the technology-driven Nasdaq Composite index down the hardest. And weighing on global markets is a continuing rise in bond yields, even though they are still at historical lows."
Goodson said company management will be drifting back into the office over the next week or so and providing some quarterly updates- which are expected to be positive given the present strength of the New Zealand economy.
"Then we are into the February reporting season and that will set the tone for the market," he said.
Leading cap stock Meridian shed 23c or 2.73 per cent to $8.19 on trade worth $21.3m, having fallen nearly 10.5 per cent over two days after reaching a high of $9.40 last Thursday.
Contact Energy was down 5c to $9.99 on trade worth $10.8m; Mercury slipped 8c to $7; and Trustpower declined 26c or 3.04 per cent to $8.30.
The market's most expensive stock Mainfreight was fleeced $1.70 or 2.48 per cent to $66.80; Fisher and Paykel Healthcare declined a further 17c to $31.93; Ebos Group lost what it gained the day before, down 60c or 2.05 per cent to $28.70; Ryman Healthcare decreased 41c or 2.65 per cent to $15.09; and Auckland International Airport fell 27c or 3.41 per cent to $7.65.
Other decliners were Restaurant Brands, down 15c to $11.50; Sanford falling 10c or 1.96 per cent to $5; and Seeka down 10c or 2.08 per cent to $4.70.
There was strong activity in Pushpay Holdings after the donor software firm upgraded its operating earnings (ebitdaf) for the year ending March for the second time to $US56m - $60m ($NZ78.16m-$83.75m), from a previous $US54m - $58m ($75.38m - $80.96m).
Pushpay traded as high as $1.73 before settling at $1.64, up 4c or 2.5 per cent, on trade worth $8.6m. The company, which announced new chief executive Molly Matthews (formerly chief customer officer), said its performance for the month of December exceeded internal expectations, and it is investing and developing the United States Catholic sector.
Goodson said Pushpay's price has been weak lately and its upgrade was not unexpected. "That's a good sign. There's been a fair bit of focus on executive turnover and share sales, but selldowns by founding directors is not unusual."
Marsden Maritime Holdings, owner of Northport near Whangarei, rose 26c or 4.27 per cent to $6.35 on the back of handling more container cargo. Other port companies fell – South Port New Zealand down 7c to $7.69 and Port of Tauranga down 7c to $7.52.
Chorus recovered 13.5c or 1.73 per cent to $7.96; The Warehouse Group continued a good run, rising 8c or 2.68 per cent to $3.06; and AMP was up 6c or 3.53 per cent to $1.76.
On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average drifted 0.29 per cent to 31,008.69, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.66 per cent to 3799.61, and the Nasdaq slumped 1.25 per cent 13,036.43, with Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter (down 6.4 per cent) taking falls.
The price of Bitcoin plunged as much as 23 per cent to hit a low of US$30,305 ($42,274) before settling around US$35,000. Bitcoin set an all-time high at US$41,962 ($58,591) on Friday.