Market close: NZ shares rebound for years third biggest rise

A rebounding New Zealand sharemarket had its third biggest rise this year, posting a gain of nearly 1.5 per cent, as fears eased over the impact of the new Omicron Covid variant.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index climbed steadily all day after a sharp rally on Wall Street overnight. The index surged 187.25 points or 1.49 per cent to 12,718.91 on heavy trading.

The other biggest one-day rises this year came on August 19, up 1.87 per cent to 12,956.97, and January 22, up 1.69 per cent to 13,333.43.

The sea of red seen on the main board in the past two days turned to green, with 104 gainers and 47 decliners, with 162.5 million shares worth $897.1 million changing hands – half of them in a2 Milk.

The volume was boosted by the bi-annual rebalancing on the MSCI indices, with a2 Milk being removed from the world index and passive investment funds having to sell the shares they were holding. Restaurant Brands also lost its spot on the small cap index.

Restaurant Brands was up 10c to $14.55 on trade worth $16.73m; and a2 Milk was down 9c to $6.11 with an impressive 68.84 million shares worth $421.32m being traded.

Matt Goodson, managing director of Salt Funds Management, said there’s been a rapid sentiment shift – “from panic-out on Friday to panic-in over the last two days. The growth stocks are very strong.

“People are rapidly getting over the fears of Omicron and flooding back to the market, but it’s still early days to have a strong view, either way, on the new variant,” he said.

United States president Joe Biden said there was no need for further lockdowns and this sparked a strong rally on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average increasing 0.68 per cent to 35,135.94, the S&P 500 gaining 1.32 per cent to 4655.27, and the Nasdaq Composite rising 1.88 per cent to 15,782.83 points.

At home, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare was up 33c to $33.33; Mainfreight rose $2.67 or 3.02 per cent to $91.17; Spark had its biggest rise this year, gaining 24.5c or 5.63 per cent to $4.60; Chorus collected 9c to $6.69; Ebos Group picked up 40c to $36.45; and Port of Tauranga increased 8c to $6.70.

Among the energy stocks, Meridian rose 26c or 5.79 per cent to $4.75; Mercury was up 17c or 2.91 per cent to $6.02; and Trustpower gained 7c to $7.30.

Property stocks were strong. Argosy rose 6.5c or 4.59 per cent to $1.48; Property for Industry increased 6c or 2.21 per cent to $2.78; Investore was up 4c or 2.21 per cent to $1.85; and Stride gained 3c to $2.08.

Property company Asset Plus was up 1.5c or 5 per cent to 31.5c a day after reporting a 78 per cent fall to $2.51m in net profit on revenue of $6.48m, down 2.2 per cent for the six months ending September.

Marsden Maritime Holdings increased 12c or 1.9 per cent to $6.42; The Warehouse Group rose 13c or 3.43 per cent to $3.92, fellow retailer Michael Hill International was up 4c or 3.36 per cent to $1.23; Gentrack gained 9c or 5 per cent to $1.89; and Smartpay Holdings climbed 5c or 6.76 per cent to 79c.

Carbon Fund increased 4c or 1.9 per cent to $2.12 on the eve of the latest auction of carbon credits under the Government Emissions Trading Scheme, after a record price of $59 a tonne was set in September.

Synlait Milk fell 13c or 3.9 per cent to $3.20; Move Logistics was down 8c or 4.44 per cent to $1.72; new listing TradeWindow shed 10c or 5.56 per cent to $1.70; and T&G Global declined 6c or 1.95 per cent to $3.01.

Oceania Healthcare gained 2c to $1.31 after reporting a solid half-year result, with net profit up 48.8 per cent to $36.94m on revenue of $113.93m, up 9.6 per cent. Oceania is paying an interim dividend of 2.1c a share on December 20.

Other retirement village operators Ryman Healthcare was up 20c to $12.30, and Summerset Group Holdings was down 10c to $12.70.

NZME rose 9c or 6.82 per cent to $1.41 after telling the market it has a conditional agreement to buy online business news operation BusinessDesk for a total consideration of $5m. BusinessDesk has more than 10,000 digital subscribers.

Westpac Banking Corporation reached agreement with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission during civil proceedings over six matters and will pay total penalties of $113m. Westpac’s share price increased 13c to $22.05. ANZ Banking Group was up 43c to $28.53.

AMP rose 4c or 3.74 per cent to $1.11 after outlining its new business plan at an Investor Day. There will be two operations – AMP wealth management in Australia and New Zealand, and PrivateMarketsCo, an international institution manager.

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