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NZ Sharemarket Starts Slightly Higher

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Dec 24 NZPA - The New Zealand sharemarket started its pre-holiday trading session in mildly positive territory and little change among the leading stocks.

After a strong gain yesterday, the benchmark NZSX-50 index was up just 1.03 points to 3210.59 in the first 15 minutes.

Telecom and Fletcher Building were unchanged at 250 and 790 respectively, while Contact Energy shed 1c to 607.

ANZ gained 19c to 2749 but fellow dual-listed bank Westpac was untraded early on this side of the Tasman after those banks and BNZ and ASB announced a settlement with the IRD late last night to pay $2.2 billion in back taxes to end their litigation over foreign structured finance transactions.

Westpac owed the most but said the $760 million it will now pay the IRD brings back $190m to its books, as all the banks are settling at a 20 percent discount to their total liabilities.

ANZ National will pay $413.7m in primary tax and interest -- but said $105.8m of that was for deals on which ANZ held an indemnity from National's former British parent bank Lloyds.

Other stocks to gain in early trading included Auckland Airport up 2c to 201, PGG Wrightson up 1c to 59 following successful completion of its rights issue, Sky City up 4c to 338 and Vector 3c to 203.

Among the falling stocks were NZ Refining down 13c to 377, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare 1c to 339, SkyTV 3c to 495 and GPG 1c to 83.

On Wall Street, technology shares rose after solid earnings from Micron Technology and Red Hat, but an unexpected drop in new home sales kept a lid on the broader market's gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average inched up 1.51 points, or 0.01 percent, at 10,466.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 2.57 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1120.59. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 16.97 points, or 0.75 percent, to 2269.64.

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