New Zealand shares fell for a second day with Meridian Energy lower as the power company confronts dry conditions, and exporters Comvita and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare faced a stronger kiwi dollar.
The S&P/NZX index declined 34.62 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 8,803.45. Within the index 26 stocks fell, 19 gained, and five were unchanged. Turnover was $174.2 million, with Ryman Healthcare accounting for $99.2m of that. Ryman fell 0.8 per cent to $12.70.
Meridian fell 1.7 per cent to $3.13 on slightly bigger volumes than normal after its monthly operating update showed South Island storage 25 per cent below average and North Island storage at 90 per cent. National hydro storage is below historical norms, coinciding with an outage at the Pohokura gas field which has pushed up wholesale prices.
"The dry conditions are having an impact, particularly in the South Island," said Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets.
Genesis Energy, which has ramped up production from its dual-fuel Rankine units at Huntly to fill the gap, rose 1 per cent to $2.445.
Summerset Group led the market lower, down 3 per cent to $6.89 on almost half the usual volume. The stock has gained 24 per cent this year, the NZX 50's best performer, having given up 11 per cent during the past three months.
Smith said higher-than-expected inflation data today ruled out the chance of an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank. However, he expects the RBNZ will keep the official cash rate at a record low for some time, supporting rate-sensitive stocks.
Vital Healthcare Property Trust gained 0.7 per cent to $2.065 on light volumes and Precinct Properties New Zealand increased 0.7 per cent to $1.42.
The higher inflation figure boosted the kiwi dollar, which was trading at 65.68 US cents and 92.13 Australian cents at 5pm in Wellington. That reduces the revenue exporters earn.
F&P Healthcare fell 1.7 per cent to $14.03 on lighter volumes than usual, while Comvita was down 1.5 per cent to $5.91 on just 5,100 shares changing hands. Kathmandu, which counts Australia as its biggest market, dropped 1.4 per cent to $2.88.
Sky Network Television posted the biggest gain on the day, up 3.8 per cent to $2.20, with 1.4 million shares traded. The New Zealand Herald reported the pay-TV operator may be a potential takeover target by NBC Universal. The company holds its annual meeting on Thursday. The stock has gained 6.3 per cent this week and Smith said it may have bottomed out, having slumped 22 per cent so far this year.
Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units rose 2 per cent to $4.65 ahead of tonight's Global Dairy Auction, where prices are expected to decline.
Pushpay Holdings rose 1.4 per cent after Fisher Funds-managed Kingfish said it's taken a stake in the payment app developer.
Ebos Group increased 0.2 per cent to $21.30 on heavier trading than usual. The company told shareholders it expects modest earnings growth this year after a solid first quarter.
Among other active stocks, Spark New Zealand slipped 0.1 per cent to $3.89 on a volume of 1.8 million shares.