Market close: Wall St’s milestone fails to ignite NZ sharemarket

The milestone on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones index breaking through the 32,000 points mark for the first time, failed to ignite or excite the New Zealand sharemarket which simply drifted on steady trading.

The Dow Jones was up nearly 1.5 per cent to a new all-time high after the US$1.9 trillion ($2.63t) economic stimulus package was passed by Congress.

But the S&P/NZX 50 Index meandered along, finishing up 20.58 points or 0.17 per cent to 12,272.48 after reaching an intraday low of 12,221.37 and high of 12,.323.25. There were 77 gainers and 64 decliners over the whole market on volume of 51.15 million share transactions worth $177.68 million.

Greg Smith, head of research with Fat Prophets, said the local market took the eagerly awaited US stimulus plan with a pinch of salt.

“Maybe the fiscal package was already priced in. Of more concern is whether the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will react to the latest house price increases to ensure the housing market doesn’t overheat. The latest housing statistics is yet more positive economic data that is having an effect on personal wealth,” he said.

For the year to February house prices rose 21.5 per cent nationally, the number of sales increased 10.3 per cent above the previous 12 months, and the median period to sell fell from 29 to 26 days. Prices in February climbed 3.7 per cent nationally.

On the back of this, the property stocks had a confident day as the US 10-Year Treasury bond yield fell further to 1.52 per cent. Investore rose 3c to $2.07; Stride Property was also up 3c to $2.14; Argosy gained 2.5c or 1.74 per cent to $1.465; and Kiwi Property was up 3.5c or 3.06 per cent to $1.18.

One of the day’s biggest movers was Air New Zealand, climbing 5.5c or 3.34 per cent to $1.70, no doubt pumped by the Australian government’s A$1.2 billion ($1.28b) tourism support package, which includes half-priced, subsidised domestic airfares and loans to small tour companies.

Smith said the tourism sector here has been largely forgotten – it has not had any dedicated, specific support and the New Zealand government might do something similar to the Australians. And Air New Zealand has a capital raising just around the corner.

Skellerup Holdings climbed 13c or 3.06 per cent to $4.38; Freightways neared the $11 mark by gaining 7.5c to $10.90; Port of Tauranga picked up 7c to $7.69; Fletcher Building increased 8c to $6.83; Delegat Group was up 30c or 2.05 per cent to $14.91; and Sanford collected 11c or 2.38 per cent to $4.74.

Retirement village operators Ryman Healthcare increased 21c to $15.65; and Summerset Group Holdings gained 12c to $12.87.

Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare fell 17c to $28.95 after reaching an intraday high of $29.40; a2 Milk slipped 15c to $9.55; Chorus decreased 16.5c or 2.06 per cent to $7.83; and Hallenstein Glasson was down 16c or 2.23 to $7.01.

The energy stocks had a mixed day. Contact Energy’s $75m retail bond offer was over-subscribed and its share price edged ahead 2c to $7.09. Meridian gained 19c or 3.46 per cent to $5.68. But Mercury fell 18.2c or 3 per cent to $5.88; and Genesis was down 6.5c to $3.835.

Z Energy fell 10c or 3.62 per cent to $2.66 after lowering its expected 2021 full-year operating earnings (ebitdaf) to $235m-$245m, from $235m-$265m. The fuel and service station company said it continues to experience the effects of two Covid lockdowns, loss of international tourists, reduced jet fuel volume and lower refining margins.

New listing My Food Bag again disappointed, falling 6c or 3.55 per cent to $1.63.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 464 points or 1.46 per cent to 32,297.02, eclipsing the previous record of 31,522.75 set on February 16. The index was spurred by re-opening stocks Boeing, up 6.39 per cent to US$245.34; pharmacist Walgreens Boots Alliance gaining 4.25 per cent to US$50.52; and retailer Home Depot increasing 1.11 per cent to US$266.24.

Investors in the US are shifting their focus from technology and high-growth stocks that did well during the pandemic to those that might perform better as the economy recovers further. The same applies to New Zealand.

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