New Zealand shares fell in subdued holiday season trading, tracking Australian stocks lower. Tower, the insurance company that missed out on acquiring rival AMI, led decliners while Port of Tauranga rose to a new record close.
The NZX 50 Index rose 3.989 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 3284.123. Within the index, 19 shares fell, 21 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $60.1 million. The S&P/ASX 200 Index was down about 1.1 per cent in afternoon trading.
"We are reacting to a weak Australian market - there is a lack of news and participation with people on holiday," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "All eyes are on what the Dow does tonight due to the lack of domestic data."
Tower, which is 35 per cent-owned by Guinness Peat Group, fell 2.6 per cent to $1.53. Tower had expressed interest in buying Christchurch-based AMI, which had to be bailed out by the government in the wake of the earthquakes and is now to be acquired by Insurance Australia Group.
GPG rose 0.9 per cent to 58 cents.
Fletcher Building, the nation's biggest construction company, fell 0.7 per cent to $6.12.
Port of Tauranga rose about 1 per cent to $10.20, the highest-ever close, adding to its gain yesterday when Ports of Auckland said it had lost business from Fonterra Cooperative Group to southern rivals. Port of Tauranga's fortunes rose through 2011, when shipping line Maersk switched one of its services to the nation's biggest export port.
Port of Tauranga "is one of the best-performing stocks on the market in the last 10 years - you have to rate the management of the company really well," Williamson said.
Rakon, which makes crystal oscillators used in smart phones and navigation systems, rose 4.3 per cent to 49 cents, the biggest gainer on the index today.
Ebos Group rose 3.1 per cent to $6.75, bringing its rally since announcing the acquisition of the Masterpet business last month to more than 10 per cent. The purchase marks a diversification for the medical supplies group.
PGG Wrightson, the nation's biggest rural services company, rose 2.7 per cent to 38 cents. Government figures released today showed higher-than-average rainfall in the North Island and upper South Island in December, which may bode well for farm production this year.
In the transport sector, Mainfreight declined 1.4 per cent to $9.80 and Freightways fell 1.9 per cent to $3.63.
Contact Energy climbed about 1 per cent to $5.30 and Telecom advanced 1.8 per cent to $2.035.