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NZ Sharemarket Eases Slightly, Result Relatively Upbeat

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 18 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket got off to a good start today but could not follow through even though company results continued to signal that the worst may be over for the economy.

The NZX-50 benchmark index closed down 9.29 points, or 0.299 percent, to 3101.77 after opening firmer. Turnover was worth $90.36 million. There were 36 rises and 46 falls among the 115 stocks traded.

Mainfreight rose 10c to 590 after reporting a 14.8 percent increase in third quarter underlying earnings and Michael Hill International closed unchanged at 69 after reporting a 53.9 percent rise in interim profit.

"Mainfreight had a good third quarter and they seemed to be quite upbeat about the current fourth quarter," said Stephen Wright at ASB Securities.

"It's one of the market's stars today," he said.

Ports of Auckland, which is no longer listed, yesterday reported a recovery in trade in recent months, adding to the positive signals about the economy coming from the transport sector.

Retailer Michael Hill benefited from strong Australian operations.

Fletcher Building, which has a big Australian business, rose 4c to 800 after reporting earnings earlier this week. Skellerup rose 6c to 54 after reporting lower profits, while saying the worst of the recession was over.

"Skellerup's profit was down but the half was better than the previous half," said Mr Wright.

"I think the trend in results has probably been better than expected so far," he said.

There has been an upbeat trend in fourth-quarter US corporate earnings so far, with more than 70 percent of the Standard & Poor's 500 companies beating analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Quartz crystal maker Rakon rose 8c to 99 and brokers said the trading of around 5 million shares at 90c before the open may have cleared out a seller in the stock.

The company said it was compliance with continuous disclosure requirements after NZX Regulation asked if it knew of any reason for weakness in its price in recent days.

OceanaGold's shares were on a trading halt on a day in which the company signalled a capital raising and reported a record result care off its successful New Zealand mines.

AMP fell 9c to 786 on a day in which it reported little change in New Zealand earnings in its result in Australia.

Contact Energy rose 1c to 565 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare 2c to 329.

TrustPower eased 6c to 730, Port of Tauranga fell 9c to 700 and Auckland Airport 3c to 181. GPG fell 2c to 82 and NZOG 2c to 150. Tower fell 3c to 188 and SkyCity 2c to 317.

Stronger-than-expected corporate results and upbeat economic data drove US stocks higher on Wednesday as they fed expectations the recovery will bolster corporate profits.

Deere & Co, the world's largest farm equipment maker, led markets after its results beat expectations and it raised its outlook for the year ahead. Shares gained 5 percent.

The optimistic outlook on the economy was underpinned by data showing a six-month high in housing starts and a rise in industrial production in January.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 40.43 points, or 0.39 percent, to 10,309.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 4.64 points, or 0.42 percent, to 1099.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 12.10 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2226.29.

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