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NZ sharemarket ends slightly firmer amid earnings reports

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Aug 19 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket ended slightly firmer today as it braced for earnings reports from Telecom, Contact Energy and Sky Television tomorrow.

Mainfreight rose 19c to 670 after reporting first quarter sales up 20.5 percent compared to a year earlier and ebitda up 32.4 percent, saying business performance in the countries where it was based had improved on the trading trend of the previous six months.

Shares in Freightways continued a run higher, rising 5c to 292 today, after the company reported on Monday that its second half performance was better than the first six months.

Overall, the benchmark NZX-50 index closed up 11.604 points, or 0.384 percent, at 3029.786 after initially opening slightly lower.

James Lee, head of institutional equities at First NZ Capital, said the market has a big day tomorrow with three of the top 10 companies reporting.

"Once we are through that we will have most of the core New Zealand profit reports," he said.

So far the season has been below expectations and profit guidance has been muted.

"We haven't really had any decent beats except for Mainfreight," he said.

Contact Energy rose 4c to 582, Telecom rose 2c to 210 and Sky TV was unchanged at 492.

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay rose 1c to 64, which is above the price of competing bids for the company. Affco was unchanged at 38 on a day Talleys extended its offer for the company.

Fletcher Building gained 9c to 743, building on yesterday's 16c gain which came after the company relieved some investors of their worst fears by reporting an annual result in line with expectations.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare dropped 3c to 280, Sanford fell 5c to 397, Pike River Coal fell 1c to 95. The Warehouse fell 1c to 347.

Goodman Fielder fell 1c to 157 on the day it reported earnings. Ebos fell 5c to 655 and Infratil fell 1c to 160.

In the United States, Wall Street made small gains, led by consumer stocks after a sales forecast from discounter Target Corp temporarily quelled concerns about consumer demand.

Shares of Target rose 2.5 percent to $US51.95 after the company said it expected same-store sales to increase 1 percent to 3 percent in the third quarter and be up slightly more in the fourth quarter.

The outlook came a day after the stock market rallied on higher-than-expected earnings from Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot.

"Deflation worries are what's been really pressuring the market. But the news from Target today, on top of Wal-Mart and Home Depot, is saying that we may not be in such a bad situation," said Marc Pado, US market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in San Francisco.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.1 percent at 10,415.54, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.2 percent at 1094.16, and the Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.3 percent at 2215.70.

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