Shares rise, cyber attack interrupts trading

New Zealand shares edged higher in a highly compressed trading session after a second cyber attack in as many days caused trading to be halted for more than three hours.

Wednesday, August 26th 2020, 6:06PM

by BusinessDesk

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 38.33 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,031.51. Within the index, 29 stocks rose, 16 fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was strong, at $218.8 million, despite the short session.

The benchmark index opened weaker, but trading was paused after the distributed denial of service attack that took down the exchange yesterday was repeated.

The exchange operator halted trading at 11:24am and didn’t resume trading until 3:00pm.

Shane Solly, a director at Harbour Asset Management, said the halt was more of an interruption than a disruption.

“The exchange has done a good job to get back online,” he said. “And the market has acted quickly to get volume through.”

Price discovery had been unaffected by the shutdown, but brokers were scrambling to get all their transactions done in the shorter trading period.

“The pressure is on the brokers who are really earning their money today,” Solly said. 

Investors took the downtime to digest some earnings results and the market closed higher after a frantic two hours of afternoon trading.

Napier Port Holdings led the market gains, rising 3.7 percent to $3.67. Solly said the port was “clawing its way back up after a good update yesterday”. It has added 20 cents to it share price since reporting.

Meridian Energy rose 1.6 percent to $5.20 after it reported a 2 percent increase in full-year operations. The electricity generator also deferred construction of its proposed Harapaki wind farm north of Napier citing reduced demand from the expected closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

Spark New Zealand dropped 3.6 percent to $4.85 after it forecast a weaker future dividend than it is paying this year.

During its 2020 financial year, net profit rose to $427 million and revenue lifted 2.5 percent to $3.62 billion but the firm is forecasting more impacts from covid-19 in the 2021 financial year.

Metlifecare reported a slight fall in underlying annual net profit but a $74.8 million drop in the value of its retirement villages flowed through to a $33.7 million net loss.

Its shares fell 0.2 percent to $5.92 widening the gap between the $6 per share scheme of arrangement.

Agribusiness group Scales Corporation said it had weathered the global pandemic in the first half but remains fairly downbeat about the full year. Its share price dropped 1.4 percent to $4.88.

Pushpay Holdings dropped 2.8 percent to $8.43 after some investors were surprised by the company chief executive selling down his stake yesterday.

Contact Energy fell 2.9 percent to $6.27 after the stock shed its dividend.

The NZ dollar paused its downward slide, with ASB economist Mike Jones saying given the kiwi had dropped 4 cents in the last month he was expecting the decline to slow. 

The kiwi dollar was trading at 65.50 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, up from 65.24 cents yesterday.

The trade-weighted index was at 70.83 at 5pm, down from 70.63 yesterday. The kiwi traded at 91.04 Australian cents from 90.98 cents, 69.69 yen from 69.14, 55.44 euro cents from 55.24 cents, 49.86 British pence from 49.79 pence, and 4.5216 Chinese yuan from 4.5081 yuan.

Tags: Market Close

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