Easing Covid 19 restrictions buoy market

New Zealand shares rose as the further relaxing of global covid­-19 restrictions bolstered investor confidence.

Tuesday, May 26th 2020, 6:35PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index advanced 138.94 points, or 1.3 percent, to 10,914.74. Within the index, 33 stocks rose, 16 fell and one was unchanged. Turnover was $136.6 million.

Investor sentiment was buoyed as more of the global economy opened up, clearing the way for a recovery from the economic damage left behind by the covid-19 outbreak and international lockdowns.

Today, Japan ended its nationwide state of emergency after new coronavirus cases slowed. The news pushed Japan's Nikkei 225 up 2.2 percent in afternoon trading, leading a rally across Asia. Local lockdown restrictions may be eased to the lowest alert level within the next four weeks.

“Economies opening up and getting back to normal business has really given markets a kicker today,” said Peter McIntyre, an investment adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.

The positive news had pulled attention away from simmering tensions between China and the United States, with Beijing’s effort to exert more control over Hong Kong the latest issue dividing the superpowers.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.9 percent in afternoon trading, Shanghai’s Composite Index increased 0.7 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 2.4 percent.

Tourism Holdings led the local market higher, jumping 10 percent to $1.54. The company today began the process of restructuring to match reduced activity levels. The restructuring will likely affect 140 of its approximately 900 New Zealand employees.

McIntyre said investors were pleased with Tourism Holdings' move to adapt to the changed conditions.  

“The markets do like certainty and that’s what has been provided by some of these updates today,” he said. 

Kathmandu Holdings rose 5.1 percent to $1.04 with 4.8 million shares changing hands. The retailer has been picking up momentum since it raised capital and has been able to progressively resume trading as restrictions have eased, McIntyre said.

“It’s a stock that has been able to raise capital and shore up its balance sheet, so some investors are becoming more confident around their outlook.”

Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group is also set to benefit from further easing of social distancing. The shares rose 3.6 percent to $2.57.

Air New Zealand rose 5.2 percent to $1.32 after detailing its financial position. While the airline confirmed it expects to report a loss this year, it said current domestic flying is cash positive and it has yet to fall back on the government's $900 million loan. 

“The market is pretty well pleased that they haven’t touched the government loan as of yet and haven’t burned through all the cash they had in reserve,” McIntyre said. 

Auckland International Airport rose 5.7 percent to $6.32.

Australian banks joined the rally across the Tasman, with gains among the dual-listed lenders.

Westpac Banking Corp rose 6.3 percent to $17.30 and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group increased 5.9 percent to $17.51. Heartland Group Holdings declined 0.9 percent to $1.12.

Kiwi Property Group rose 2.6 percent to 98.5 cents, continuing to gather strength after reporting its annual result yesterday. Research house Jarden today upgraded its rating on the stock to 'outperform' as the rental outlook and valuations stabilised.

Arvida Group declined 0.7 percent to $1.39. The retirement village operator said it will build 20 percent fewer units than planned due to the covid­-19 outbreak softening the housing market. The group today reported a 34 percent increase in underlying profit to $51.7 million in the March year and said it will pay an annual dividend of 5.8 cents per share.

McIntyre said it was a reasonable result for the company, but the 2021 financial year had potential to be difficult. 

Napier Port shares rose 1.3 percent to $3.18 after reporting a 39 percent increase in annual profit to $12.8 million. The port operator said freight volumes last month were down 40 percent and it expects May's trade to also be down “materially” on the same period last year.

The port cancelled its interim dividend but is ramping up activity amid the winding down of covid-19 restrictions.

Port of Tauranga declined 0.5 percent to $7.33.

Pushpay Holdings posted the biggest decline of the day, falling 3.8 percent to $6.87. McIntyre said that was likely driven by investors cashing in on the stock's strong run, up 70.9 percent year-to-date.

Tags: Market Close

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