New Zealand shares were mixed as the prospect of a slowing domestic economy came head-to-head with improved global sentiment.
The S&P/NZX 50 index was down 8.23 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 8,835.60. Within the index, 22 stocks gained, 21 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $117.5 million.
Asian markets were generally up in early trading, after reports from the US and China indicated President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping may talk trade during the G-20 meeting in Argentina late November. The S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.3 per cent, aided by weaker than expected September retail spending.
Locally the ANZ Roy Morgan survey showed consumer confidence index slid further in October. While there was a slight improvement in people's optimism about their own situation, the future conditions index fell to its lowest since late 2015.
Hamilton Hindin Greene investment advisor Grant Davies said the US news had provided a good overnight lead and the consumer confidence result should not have been a surprise.
But he said the local market had held up relatively well during the global equity sell-off in October. Activity this week has tended to be company-specific, depending on the news flow from the latest results and annual meetings. How individual stocks had fared during October was another factor.
"We have had some pretty good earnings of late," he said. "This week has been pretty positive on the whole."
Z Energy was the heaviest traded stock among the majors with 3.6 million shares changing hands – five-times the daily average the past three months.
The stock fell 0.9 per cent to $5.48, its lowest close since May 2015. The country's biggest fuel retailer yesterday rattled investors with a 21 per cent drop in first-half earnings and announcing a dividend about five cents less than they were expecting.
Davies said yesterday's move may have been an over-reaction, but the stock has also already suffered from the added risk posed to the sector by political calls for greater regulation.
Stride Property was unchanged at $1.88, with more than 2.9 million shares traded – more than 10-times the average volume the past three months. Stride Investment Management has hired former Morrison & Co executive Steve Penney to help drive the firm's real estate investment fund strategy.
Fonterra Shareholders' Fund rose 0.6 per cent to $4.88. Changes to the country's milk regulation may amend arrangements that require the company to ensure guaranteed milk supplies for large rival processors wanting to operate here.
Synlait Milk rose 1.9 per cent to $8.92, having shed more than $2 during October. A2 Milk Co, one of the market's strongest performers this year, was unchanged at $10.70. It had fallen to an eight-month low of $9.04 last month.
Spark New Zealand fell 2.4 per cent to $3.89. The telecommunications firm reiterated its full-year earnings guidance of $1.025 billion to $1.055b, not including dividends from international cable provider Southern Cross. Chief executive Simon Moutter also used the firm's annual meeting to urge faster action from the government on allocation of 5G spectrum.
Kiwi Property Trust rose 1.1 per cent to $1.33, with 1.6 million shares traded. The company today confirmed an interest rate of 4.06 per cent on a $100m seven-year bond.
Fletcher Building fell a second day, down 0.2 per cent to $5.95. The company yesterday reported a non-cash loss of up to $20m on the US$39m sale of the firm's steel roof tile business to Canada's IKO group.
Auckland International Airport rose 1.3 per cent to $7.15. The Commerce Commission yesterday said the $1.8bi the firm plans to spend on infrastructure during the next five years may over-recover $37m. The regulator stopped short of calling the proposed 7.06 per cent return excessive.
Among other companies with trading volumes of more than a million shares, Meridian Energy fell 1.9 per cent to $3.09, Chorus rose 1.9 per cent to $4.82, Goodman Property Trust rose 0.7 per cent to $1.51, and Precinct Properties New Zealand rose 0.3 per cent to $1.41.