New Zealand shares fell as investors fretted about a possible slowdown in global growth. Spark saw the heaviest volumes traded.

The S&P/NZX 50 index fell 34 points, or 0.4 percent, to 9114.63. Within the index, 17 stocks rose, 9 were unchanged and 24  fell. Turnover was light at $101 million. 

US markets were closed overnight due to a holiday but equity markets in Europe fell after China’s slightly slower 6.4 percent GDP growth in the December quarter. Asian markets followed suit and sentiment soured further after the International Monetary Fund trimmed its global growth forecasts. 

World growth was revised down to 3.5 percent and 3.6 percent in 2019 and 2020, primarily reflecting trade tensions and tightening financial conditions, according to the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook Update.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 percent while Japan’s Topix was down 0.8 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.0 percent. 

David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr, said volumes remained extremely light with many market participants still on holiday until at least next Tuesday, after Australia Day and the Auckland Anniversary holiday next Monday.

Spark was once again the most heavily traded stock, with 5 million shares changing hands compared to its daily average 3.5 million over the past 90 days. It was the biggest loser, shedding 2.2 percent to $3.96.  Some 2.4 million Kiwi Property shares traded, versus its daily average 1.3 million, with the stock falling 0.7 percent to $1.39. 

The third most heavily traded stock was Trade Me, which added 0.2 percent to $6.34, still below the $6.45 per share price that UK-based Apax Partners has offered in a takeover bid that is subject still shareholder and court approvals.

Precinct Property also saw a volume of more than one million shares, but was unchanged at $1.485. 

A2 Milk shed 0.8 percent to $12.50 while dual-listed Australia and New Zealand Banking Group was down 1.2 percent at $27.42, following the slide in Australia. 

The biggest gainer was Gentrack, which added 1.3 percent to $5.56, followed by Summerset, which was up 1.3 percent to $6.50. Volumes in both were light. 

Auckland International Airport was down 0.6 percent at $7.43. It announced Jason Delamore, general manager marketing and technology, was leaving in April 2019 to become the chief executive of Fronde, a major New Zealand technology integrator. A search for his replacement will get underway in the coming weeks.

Vista Group added 0.3 percent to $4.06. It announced Kelvin Preston has joined the company as its general counsel and company secretary. 

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