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The Markets

Coronavirus ripples through markets driving shares down; utilities down

New Zealand shares fell as the outbreak of coronavirus continued to weigh on tourism-related companies, and as a flatter interest rate outlook sapped the attraction of companies paying reliable dividends.

Friday, January 24th 2020, 6:14PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 23.3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 11,877.8. Within the index, 23 stocks fell, 17 rose and 10 were unchanged. Turnover was $113.4 million.

Stocks exposed to the tourism sector remained under pressure as the risk of a potential coronavirus epidemic on international travel weighed on global investors.

Air New Zealand fell 0.3 percent to $2.98 on a bigger volume than normal of 3.6 million shares, Auckland International Airport declined 1 percent to $8.885 with 692,000 shares changing hands, and Tourism Holdings was down 1.6 percent at $3 on a volume of 308,000 shares.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC, said it was remarkable the way different markets had reacted to the coronavirus risk. Share markets in China were under pressure, with the Shanghai and Shenzhen indices recording 2-to-4 percent falls on several occasions this week, while the S&P500 in the US was up 1 percent.

“If this is going to have an impact, given that it has its roots in China – the second-largest economy in world – it’s going to have an impact everywhere. So, clearly investors in different parts of the world are taking different views,” he said.

A2 Milk, which counts China as a major market, decreased 0.1 percent to $16.01.

Oceania Healthcare held steady at $1.31 on a volume of 971,000 shares. The retirement village operator and developer announced underlying earnings from continuing operations were up 17.6 percent at $24.1 million.

Other retirement village stocks also performed well as the Metlifecare takeover bid continued to stoke demand for rival companies.

Arvida Group rose 1.1 percent to $1.87 on a volume of 164,000, Ryman Healthcare advanced 0.7 percent to $16.62 on a volume of 252,000, and Metlifecare rose 0.2 percent to $6.88 on a volume of 1.7 million, below the $7 per share takeover offer.

Electricity utilities have remained in vogue among investors because their reliable dividend payments have been a favoured alternative to bonds and term deposits in a low-interest rate environment. Inflation data today reduced the chance of the Reserve Bank cutting the official cash rate, and reduced the attraction of some yield stocks.

Meridian Energy led the market lower, falling 1.9 percent to $5.22 on a volume of 820,000 shares, Z Energy fell 1.5 percent to $4.61 on a volume of 406,000. Contact Energy rose 0.4 percent to $7.48 on a volume of 697,000 shares and Precinct Properties rose 1.1 percent to $1.895.

“Positive surprises in inflation that lead to New Zealand investors thinking rates might not be lowers for longer certainly would weigh on those high dividend stocks,” McCarthy said.

“However, given the shocks we have had with the drops in revenue related to power supply, the energy sector looks like they are the weak hand in the market. So, when investors want to sell, they still look at the energy sector as a potential area to push on.”

New Zealand Refining fell 1.8 percent to $1.64, extending its decline this week as investors digest skinnier margins.

Vista Group International was the biggest gainer today, rising 2.7 percent to $3.75 on a volume of just 52,000 shares.

Among stocks that traded on volumes of more than a million, Spark New Zealand fell 0.4 percent to $4.58, Sky Network Television gained 1.4 percent to 72 cents and Investore Property held at $1.80.

Tags: Market Close

« NZ shares edge higher as Chinese virus fears weighCoronavirus hits tourism stocks again »

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