A2 Milk leads sharemarket higher

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 2 points, or 0.025 per cent, to 7976.43. Within the index, 19 stocks fell, 17 rose and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was $124 million.

A2 Milk was the best performer, up 3.9 per cent to $7.70. The milk marketer signalled growth has continued into this financial year at a UBS Investor Conference in Sydney today.

It outlined positive developments in its Australia and New Zealand, China and other Asian, US and UK markets, but stopped short of providing detailed figures. It will give an update at its annual meeting of shareholders next Tuesday.

“It kicked off with a bit of a bang this morning, China growth is tracking really well so that was a positive for them,” said Peter McIntyre, investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners. “The market will really look forward to that update.”

Meridian Energy rose 2.8 per cent to $2.90 while Metro Performance Glass gained 2.2 per cent to 92c.

At the other end of the scale, Xero was the worst performer, dropping 4.2 per cent to $30.74. The stock has fallen 11 per cent in three sessions since the company announced plans to delist from the NZX in favour of the ASX.

McIntyre said many market participants were baffled by the decision, which means the stock will be sold by funds tracking the local index.

“From the retail side it’s slightly more difficult to hold the stock if it’s just in Australia – you’ve also got currency to think about,” McIntyre said. “It’s also a stock that has done exceptionally well, so maybe there’s a bit of profit-taking.”

The dual-listed banks fell after giving up their final dividends. Westpac Banking Corp dropped 3.1 per cent, or $1.14, to $35.77 after shedding a 94c dividend and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group dropped 3 per cent to $32.62 after giving up an 80c dividend.

SkyCity Entertainment Group fell 0.8 per cent to $3.90. It said group normalised revenue rose 1.7 per cent in the four months ended October 31 compared with the same period a year earlier, helped by a 3.1 per cent gain from its New Zealand business.

Precinct Properties was unchanged at $1.285. It plans to raise up to $100m from a seven-year bond offer to repay bank debt.

Stride Property Group rose 0.6 per cent to $1.64 and Investore Property was flat at $1.37.

Outside the benchmark index, Tower shares have been halted at 76c ahead of today’s annual earnings announcement, where the general insurer will unveil details to raise new capital.


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