New Zealand shares were mixed, with investors positioning ahead of the general election on September 23. Xero rose to a three-year high with Summerset Group up while Vector fell.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 8.2 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 7819.23. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 21 fell and six were unchanged. Turnover was $146 million.

"The election is still very much in focus. Volume running through the market in the morning was very light. There's not a lot of corporate news flow," said Peter McIntyre, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.

"We've been quick to move away from geopolitical events to the election - we've seen different polls come through, and market participants positioning themselves, because at this stage it's fifty-fifty."


Xero was the best performer, up 3.2 per cent to $28.10, the highest it has traded since June 2014. The stock has rallied 55.6 per cent this year.

"There has been some talk that Xero could benefit if our tax system changes, I think there's more to it than that," McIntyre said. "Once it starts to break even they'll definitely see earnings growth. Its uptake within New Zealand and Australia is strong, but it has still got that global appeal to it."

Summerset Group gained 2 per cent to $5.10.

It plans to build its fifth retirement village in the greater Wellington region with the purchase of a 6ha block of land north of the city. The Wellington-based company wants to develop a 290-unit village with a rest home and hospital care.

It is Summerset's seventh greenfield site. The land is in Porirua's Kenepuru Landing development, a joint residential development between local iwi Ngati Toa and Tauranga-based developer Carrus Corp.

"It still sees a lot of growth in the marketplace. I don't think it comes as a surprise," McIntyre said. "There have been some reports saying that if retirement villages weren't developing those sites New Zealand would have a massive shortfall. It's a bit of positive news from Summerset which reported very well."

Air New Zealand was the worst performer, down 2.6 per cent to $3.33, while Arvida Group shed 1.6 per cent to $1.23.

Vector dropped 2.4 per cent to $3.22.

"It's been weak since posting a reasonable result. It looks likely it will be removed from some FTSE indices this coming Friday," McIntyre said. "There is obviously some selling that has to occur so that's provided some weakness to the share price."

Auckland Airport dipped 0.3 per cent to $6.36.

"For the month rolling it's down over 5 per cent. It's a stock that usually has good liquidity running through it," McIntyre said. "I think there are still concerns, even though the growth outlook is strong. It's doing massive capital outlay and maybe some parts of the market have concerns about that effect on its earnings."

Outside the benchmark index, Turners Automotive Group fell 4.8 per cent to $3.20. On Wednesday it was halted during a $25m placement at $3.02 per share, which was fully subscribed with the underwriter not called on to top up the discounted offer.

"That was eagerly sought after - it was snapped up," McIntyre said. "Those able to participate will be happy. It has a good relationship with Motor Trade Finance. It's good news it was able to complete the placement so quickly overnight."