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NZ sharemarket eases as small stocks take a hit

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Oct 19 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket eased today as several smaller stocks slumped significantly, led by coal miner Pike River Coal's 11 percent decline after it again cut production forecasts.

The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 4.4 points at 3257.9, having gained 6.5 points yesterday.

Pike River Coal lost 13c to a one-month low of 105 after the company said a delay in constructing an underground road would significantly lower its mine's production forecast for the current financial year. However, the miner was confident of eventually reaching full production.

Key shareholder NZ Oil and Gas was down 5c at 128.

Also taking a hit was Tourism Holdings, which closed down 11c, or 12.5 percent, at 77 after releasing a trading outlook update just before the market closed yesterday. In the update, the company said it was expecting a first half net loss of up to $1 million.

On the rise was Charlie's Group, which soared 45 percent, or 5c, to a two-year high of 16c after news its drinks would be stocked at 750 Coles supermarkets across Australia in a multi-million dollar deal that took a year to hammer out.

Shares in PGG Wrightson closed down 3c at 56c. Shortly after the market opened today the company announced the resignation of managing director Tim Miles, effective immediately.

Among blue chips, Contact Energy was up 4c at 574, Fletcher Building lost 8c to 820, Auckland International Airport was up a cent at 209, Telecom lost a cent to 206, and casino company Sky City rose 4c to 296.

Hallenstein Glasson gained 6c to 446, while another retailer, The Warehouse, fell a cent to 393 and Pumpkin Patch was down 3c at 196.

Gas and telecommunications network company Vector was down 4c at 228, Sky TV lost 5c to 520, and Kathmandu fell 5c to 190.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 0.2 percent at 4661. Earlier in the United States, upbeat news for banks and homebuilders pushed the stock market broadly higher, extending its gains for the month.

Better-than-expected results from Citigroup Inc drove financial stocks up by more than 2 percent, halting a recent slide brought on by questions into how banks have handled foreclosures.

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