New Zealand shares rose to a record as A2 Milk Co continued its strong rally, with Westpac Banking Corp, Meridian Energy and Sky Network Television all advancing on light trading.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index capped off two trading weeks of consecutive gains, up 30.19 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 6225.53. Within the index, 32 stocks rose, eight fell and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $58.4 million, in shortened trading hours.
A2 Milk, this year's best performer on the benchmark index, rose 9.4 per cent to $1.97. The stock touched an intraday high of $2.02 at 12:19pm, but dropped back by the 1pm close. The dual-listed milk producer has risen 79 per cent since it announced a second earnings upgrade for the year last week. "From everything we hear, it really is international funds chasing growth companies right around the globe, and this company has ticked that box so they just keep buying it," said Rickey Ward, NZ equity manager at JBWere.
"Clearly it's growing, and clearly it's growing better than the market expected. It sort of feels like a tech company - it's just momentum rather than anything fundamentally based," Ward said.
Westpac rose 1.5 per cent to $34.56, along with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group which increased 1.3 per cent to $28.94. Meridian Energy gained 1.3 per cent to $2.37, and Metro Performance Glass rose 1.2 per cent to $1.69.
Sky Network Television increased 1.1 per cent to a three-week high of $4.53. The stock has recovered some momentum after dropping as low as $4.19 on December 15, Ward said. "Sky TV continues to re-rate, that's one that people haven't talked about. It's regained more than its losses now, there's been a little bit of movement on lightish volumes, but not no volumes," he said. Kathmandu was the worst performer on Thursday, falling 1.3 per cent to $1.56.
Vital Healthcare Property Trust fell 0.3 per cent to $1.87. The property investor, which owns and develops property for hospitals and healthcare, has bought Boulcott Hospital's real estate in Lower Hutt for $30.7 million, and a further $1 million on residential land next door for future development. It also signed a 22-year lease with Australia's Pulse Health Group, which bought the operating business earlier this month.