New Zealand shares rose as a strong rally in Australia helped overcome the subdued tone set over the weekend, and as investors were heartened by news that no new local Covid-19 infections had been reported in the past 24 hours.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 26.97 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 10,475.98. Within the index, 16 stocks rose, 31 fell, and three were unchanged. Turnover was $123.7 million.
A gloomy lead from Wall Street on Friday prompted the local market to fall as much as 1.5 per cent in morning trading, with investors fretting over the prospect of the US and China resuming their trade war.
That sombre tone hung over most of Asia, with most major markets down in afternoon trading. Australia was one of the few to buck the trend, with the S&P/ASX 200 Index up 1.5 per cent in afternoon trading.
The local market started its rally following the announcement there were no new Covid-19 cases today. That's the first day without new infections since lockdown began more than a month ago.
"This morning we would've been trading on the Friday night trading from the US which was quite negative, but the Aussie market is bucking that trend today," said Grant Davies, an investment adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene.
Australian fintech Afterpay was leading the Australian market higher in late trading, up 24.3 per cent at A$36.255 ($38.43) after it said Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent had built up a 5 per cent stake.
Pushpay Holdings, the mobile payments app developer, rose 2.4 per cent to $4.30.
A2 Milk Co led the local market higher, up 4 per cent at $19.97. Davies said positive trading of the stock on the Australian market had spilled over and helped to prop up the local benchmark.
"A2 is doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the market today," he said. "It seems to follow the trend and then some at the moment."
Fonterra Shareholders' Fund units increased 0.5 per cent to $3.70, while Synlait Milk slipped 0.4 per cent to $6.83.
Blue chip companies underpinned the day's gain. Mercury NZ rose 1.8 per cent to $4.50, Goodman Property Trust was up 1.8 per cent at $2.26, Spark New Zealand increased 1.6 per cent to $4.42, Ryman Healthcare was up 1.6 per cent at $12.12, and Meridian Energy advanced 1.2 per cent to $4.39.
Westpac Banking Corp increased 0.7 per cent to $16.88 after the dual-listed Australian lender reported a 62 per cent drop in first half net profit to A$1.19 billion, meeting expectations. It had already signalled the result would include A$2.24b in charges against profit relating to expected Covid-19-related losses.
Davies said investors had already been expecting a negative update from the bank.
"Westpac had already announced their impairment charge, so the bad news was already out there and maybe investors are taking some positives out of today's update."
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group fell 0.2 per cent to $17.10.
The majority of stocks in the benchmark index were weaker today, led by firms with the most immediate exposure to an economic downturn.
SkyCity Entertainment Group posted the day's biggest decline, down 3.9 per cent at $2.45. Kathmandu Holdings declined 3.9 per cent to 75 cents and Oceania Healthcare fell 2.7 per cent to 73 cents. Air New Zealand decreased 1.2 per cent to $1.27.
Courier company Freightways declined 1.5 per cent to $6.60 and global logistics group Mainfreight fell 0.5 per cent to $36.31.
Outside the benchmark index, NZME dropped 2.3 per cent to 21 cents.
QEX Logistics dropped 19.1 per cent to 68 cents after saying it plans to raise up to $4 million at 60 cents a share to help fund its growth plans, such as beefing up its Australian operations.
Cannasouth rose 8.7 per cent to 50 cents after raising more money to fund its growth plans than it initially sought.