New Zealand shares joined the post-Christmas global rally, with beat-up stocks including Pushpay, Scales Corp and Heartland Group among those leading the gains.
The S&P/ NZX 50 index rose 60.01 points, or 0.7 percent, to 8,774.52, its highest close in two weeks. Within the index, 28 stocks gained, 16 fell, and six were unchanged. Turnover was a quiet $58.3 million.
Stock markets across Asia followed Wall Street’s cue, with Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index up 1.8 percent in afternoon trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gaining 0.6 percent and Singapore’s Straits-Times index rising 1.9 percent. US equity markets recovered from a sharp sell-off on Christmas Eve as stronger than expected retail spending buoyed retailers and helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average to mark its biggest one-day increase on a points basis.
“We’re taking a lead from the strong US markets, which were up 5 percent overnight,” said Shane Solly, a portfolio manager at Harbour Asset Management, in Wellington. “Our market has held up much better than other markets, so it’s to be expected that we didn’t bounce as aggressively.”
Companies that have been sold off in recent months were among the biggest gainers today. Pushpay Holdings rose 4 percent to $3.12 in very light trading, having hit a year-low in November. Scales was up 3.5 percent at $4.40, having also hit a 12-month low earlier this month. Heartland – which is trading near a two-year low – rose 2.9 percent to $1.40 on a modest volume.
Just two companies reported volumes of more than 1 million shares – Auckland International Airport, which was up 2.4 percent at $7.35, and Spark New Zealand, unchanged at $4.20 on turnover of 1.1 million shares.
Meridian Energy fell 0.3 percent to $3.40 on a volume of 989,000 and Contact Energy was down 0.8 percent at $5.88 on volume of 966,000, while Fletcher Building dropped 0.8 percent to $4.86, with 771,000 shares changing hands. A2 Milk rose 2.6 percent to $10.88 on 745,000 shares changing hands, half its average volume.
Stride Property fell 1 percent to $1.90, Investore Property declined 2.6 percent to $1.50 and Argosy Property was down 1.7 percent at $1.18. Solly said the three real estate investors had outperformed recently, with the defensive qualities of property investment firms typically favoured when investor appetite for growth-focused assets dims.
Vista Group International fell 2.7 percent to $3.60. The cinema software analytics firm rejoined the benchmark earlier this week.
Infratil rose 0.6 percent to $3.60 in modest trading. The infrastructure investor announced the sale of its NZ Bus unit for as much as $240 million in a deal it will help finance and was announced after the close of trading on Christmas Eve