New Zealand shares fell with local earnings insufficient to embolden investors wary about the outlook for the global economy. Z Energy again led the market lower.

The S&P/NZX 50 index fell 56.82 points, or 0.6 percent, to 8,778.78. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 20 gained and eight were unchanged. Turnover was modest at $84.4 million. 

Asian markets were generally down in early trading, following a weaker close in the US on Friday. Stocks there gave up some of their gains amid mixed signals from the White House on the prospects of a trade deal with China and a disappointing outlook from Apple Inc.

Peter McIntyre, an investment advisor with Craigs Investment Partners, said the local market is being driven by offshore events.

While there is reasonably good local news flow this week, particularly with the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy statement on Thursday, the end of the earnings season in the US has left investors more focused on political risks – particularly the midterm elections in the US Tuesday.

“There’s not a lot of conviction with this market,” he said. “The worry meter is pretty high at the moment.”

Z Energy extended its decline for a third day after the company attempted to clarify its dividend position for the remainder of the 2019 financial year.

It was again the heaviest traded stock among the majors with 3.1 million shares changing hands – down from Friday but still more than three times the daily average the past three months.

The stock fell 5.1 percent to $5.20, its lowest close since May 2015. The country’s biggest fuel retailer rattled investors on Thursday with a 21 percent drop in first-half earnings and a dividend about five cents less than they were expecting.

The $120 million in cash tax the company today said it expects is a stark contrast to the $80 million some analysts had been forecasting, McIntyre said.

Volumes among the other majors were light. A2 Milk fell 5.1 percent to $10.15 with fewer than 600,000 shares traded – half the usual volume. Spark New Zealand rose 2.3 percent to $3.98 with less than 980,000 shares – almost a third of the average daily volume the past three months.

Westpac Banking Corp. rose 1.5 percent to $29.04. The company’s A$8.07 billion full-year profit reported today was little changed from a year earlier. Earnings from the local unit rose 5 percent to $1 billion.

McIntyre said the Australian bank stocks have been reasonably “beaten up” and some investors may now be looking again at them.  

“Their cost-out programme will have also provided the market some confidence,” he said of Westpac.

AMP rose 5.3 percent to $2.98

Trustpower rose 0.5 percent to $6.21 after announcing a 25 cent special dividend and signalling it may pay another special dividend early next year subject to debt levels within the firm and efforts to extend the maturity profile of its debt.

The company said it is expecting improved telecom customer sign-ups in the second-half after discovering customers find offers of appliances more appealing than a matching value of free data.

McIntyre said the firm’s full-year guidance update only a few weeks ago has probably taken away a little from the company’s generally positive news today.

Air New Zealand rose 1.5 percent to $2.98. The September passenger volumes reported last week were pretty strong, while the declining oil price is also positive for the carrier, McIntyre said.

Tourism Holdings rose 2.2 percent to $5.11.

Orion Health Group rose 2.7 percent to $1.14. The technology company today raised the likely price range for its planned buyback to $1.20 to $1.25 from $1.16 to $1.26, following the completion of the sale of its Rhapsody unit to UK private equity firm Hg for $205 million.

New Zealand Oil & Gas rose 3.2 percent to 65 cents. Subsidiary Cue Energy has reported elevated gas readings in the firm’s Paus Biru-1 well in the Sampang licence in Indonesia.

Property for Industry fell 0.6 percent to $1.72. The company today raised its third-quarter dividend to 1.85 cents, from 1.8 cents in the second quarter and a year earlier.

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