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Market falls produce buying opportunities

New Zealand stocks fell, following a rout in stocks across the globe in the wake of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and concern about ailing world economic growth.

Wednesday, September 17th 2008, 7:02AM

by Jonathan Underhill

The benchmark NZX 50 Index fell 2.8% to 3229.824 and was earlier down about 3% to the lowest level this month. All but four securities in the NZX 50 fell today, with Telecom dropping to a 15-year low of $2.81.

The decline has spread across Asia today. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 3% to 112.11, the lowest level in almost three years. Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average dropped 4.7%. Shares tumbled on Wall Street after Lehman Brothers failed to find a buyer and Merrill Lynch agreed to be acquired by Bank of America for US$50 billion in a hastily devised rescue.

Citigroup, the biggest US bank, fell 15% yesterday, while Goldman Sachs dropped 12% and Morgan Stanley declined 14%.

"This is the sign of a bear market, driven entirely by sentiment" said Rickey Ward, who helps manage $450 million of shares at Tyndall Investment Management. "Prices are incredibly volatile and there's limited liquidity. People are having to cross spreads to buy or sell."

The 10 biggest companies on the New Zealand exchange all declined today. About $1.03 billion was wiped off the value of the NZX 50, which had a market capitalisation of about $37.9 billion today.

The decline has created "some great opportunities" for investors taking more than a 24-hour view, Ward said. He cited New Zealand Oil & Gas, which has sunk 4.6% to $1.45 yesterday.

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