New Zealand shares were flat today, as Synlait Milk and A2 Milk broke new records on regulatory approval to retain Chinese market access.

Z Energy dropped after missing heightened expectations on its bigger dividend policy.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dipped 0.16 points, or 0.002 per cent, to 7913.62. Within the index, 26 stocks fell, 19 rose and five were unchanged. Turnover was $204 million.

Z Energy led the index lower, down 3 per cent to $7.39.


At an investor briefing, it said it anticipated paying bigger dividends to shareholders under a new policy, paying between 80 per cent and 100 per cent of free cash flow in the 2019 to 2021 financial years.

"Most of the themes people were expecting were presented - improved dividend payout and synergy gains from the mergers - but expectations were relatively high for a reasonable lift in that dividend, and it may not have quite achieved that," said James Lindsay, senior portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management.

Synlait Milk was the best performer, rising 6.7 per cent to a record $6.25 after announcing it had received manufacturer registration for A2 Milk's Chinese label infant formula, meaning the products will continue to have market access next year when China tightens its rules.

A2 Milk ended the day up 0.2 per cent to $6.54, also a record, although it jumped as high as $7.05 during intraday trading.

"Those two names have been pretty stellar performers over recent months," Lindsay said. "A2 certainly hits highs on a regular basis."

Air New Zealand rose 3.4 per cent to $3.34. At its annual shareholders meeting, chairman Tony Carter said the company was pleased with first-quarter performance.

Restaurant Brands gained 0.8 per cent to $6.65. It began trading as a foreign exempt entity on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Outside the benchmark index, Trilogy International dropped 10 per cent to $2.15, Moa Group gained 9.8 per cent to 45c and Hallenstein Glasson Holdings rose 4.7 per cent to $3.33.