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NZ shares buoyed by RBNZ optimism of brief coronavirus hit

New Zealand shares rose as investors took heart from the Reserve Bank indicating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the domestic economy and corporate earnings would be short-lived.

Wednesday, February 12th 2020, 7:31PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 63.70 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,898.24. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 21 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $193.8 million.

The Reserve Bank kept the official cash rate at 1 percent today, as expected, but changed its forecasts to remove the chance of future cuts with governor Adrian Orr talking down the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the domestic economy.

That followed an upbeat lead from Wall Street after China’s foremost medical adviser said the epidemic would likely peak this month and may be over by April.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said equity investors were under-pricing the risk from coronavirus. In contrast, investors in commodities took a more pessimistic outlook on the global economy, he said.

“Oil prices are down 16-17 percent and gold is holding multi-year highs, so those markets are expressing real concerns, but share investors seem to blithely going along,” McCarthy said.

Still, McCarthy said the best performers on New Zealand's benchmark index had defensive characteristics, such as utilities and property companies. Those companies typically pay reliable dividends are often deemed attractive when interest rates are low.

The local market was led higher retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare - up 2.9 percent at $16.87 - and electricity generator-retailer Meridian Energy, which rose 2.9 percent to $5.76 on a volume of 3 million shares.

Among other utilities to gain, Mercury Energy was up 2.1 percent at $5.44, Contact Energy rose 1.3 percent to $7.57 and Genesis Energy increased 0.2 percent to $3.20.

Growth stock Pushpay Holdings rose 2.8 percent to $4.70.

Tourism Holdings gained 1.1 percent to $2.94 after research group Jarden upgraded its rating to ‘outperfom’, saying the current share price was a compelling entry point for a business with a strong competitive position and exposure to a tourism industry which has seen strong growth. The rental RV operator has been under pressure as investors fretted about the impact the coronavirus outbreak would have on domestic tourism.

A2 Milk group rose 1.6 percent to $15.8, bolstered by the resurgence in global optimism.

Stock market operator NZX fell 0.7 percent to $1.38. McCarthy said that was at odds with the strong performance of the local market.

“One of the reason traders like to look at the performance of exchange shares themselves is they are essentially a prediction of the share outlook,” he said. 

“More people get involved in share markets when they rise, so the fact that stock was down today suggests there may be a polarisation of investors. Some are keen to get in, but some are very nervous.”

Sky Network Television shares fell 4.8 percent to a record low 60 cents after the pay-TV operator reported a 78 percent slide in first-half profit. The company is overhauling its operations to focus on streaming services in an increasingly competitive environment.

Greg Smith, head of research at Fat Prophets, said the company was heading in right direction, but that it appeared as though investors needed more evidence before they started backing it again.

“You can understand them being at 60 cents if they weren’t strategically repositioning and if they didn’t have streaming. At some point – and it’s hard to see when – investors will wake up and see a they’re evolving with the market and there’s a value proposition there.”

Tags: Market Close

« Coronavirus fears boost demand for yield playsSynlait Milk slumps to 2-year low; NZ shares fall »

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AIA 4.55 3.55 3.89 3.99
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Last updated: 31 March 2020 8:55am

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