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The Markets

International tension, high bond yields drives stocks lower

A worsening geopolitical situation and the continued march higher of bond yields drove New Zealand stocks lower across the board.

Thursday, October 19th 2023, 6:23PM

by BusinessDesk

By the close, the S&P/NZX50 index was at 11,135.58, down 85.90 points or 0.77%, but off its lows for the day.

Turnover, worth $64.84 million, was light, with 95 falls and 38 rises among the 185 stocks traded.

Jeremy Sullivan, investment advisor Hamilton Hindin Greene, the deteriorating situation in the Middle East was taking its toll on sentiment, as were sharply higher bond yields in the US and locally.

“There have been a few catalysts leading our market lower today,” he said.

“One of them is higher bond yields, with US Treasuries hitting a 16-year high.”

The worsening situation in the Middle East has raised fears that sanctions against Iran – a major oil producer – could drive oil prices higher still.

“That would lead to higher inflation and higher interest rates, so it's a double-edged sword to a certain extent,” Sullivan said.

“It does not look like the (US President) Biden visit to the Middle East has calmed fears of a broadening conflict,” he said.

The eruption of war between Hamas and Israel in the Middle East puts further upward pressure on rating agency S&P Global’s assessment of geopolitical risk that it already viewed as elevated and worsening, S&P said in a report.

“A key risk in the event of escalation would be the potential for an energy supply shock, which could underpin inflation and weigh on economic activity,” the agency said.

On the NZX, falls were across the board - led by healthcare, industrials, and retail issues - although some stocks rebounded towards the end.

On the upside, travel expenses specialist Serko gained 10 cents to $4.33, and food kit company My Food Bag firmed half a cent to 15.8c.

The power companies were mostly weaker during the day before recovering ground going into the close.

Meridian Energy gained half a cent to $5.08, Genesis Energy rose 1c to $2.42, Contact Energy firmed 3c to $7.95, and Mercury firmed 3.5c to $6.04, while Manawa fell 4c to $4.47.

In retail, Restaurant Brands dropped 19c or 4.7% to $3.86; The Warehouse fell 3c to $1.75. and Hallenstein Glasson dropped 13c to $5.65.

No guidance

Shares in Tourism Holdings (THL) dropped by 8c to $3.46 after its annual meeting.

The company, perhaps one of the hardest hit of all the listed companies by the covid-19 pandemic, said it had decided not to provide half-year guidance “as it would not give clarity on the performance of the business across the full year”.

It said several factors would need to be considered when comparing the half-year result against the prior corresponding period, including the sale of 310 motorhomes to Jucy in the first half of 2023 and the impact of acquisition accounting adjustments and the THL global crew bonus paid in the first half of 2024.

“These factors should result in the first half underlying contribution this year being a lesser proportion of the full year result,” it said.

Channel Infrastructure was down 3c at $1.50.

Channel, formerly Refining NZ, said it would refresh its strategy with a view to “identifying and pursuing the best opportunities for the business as we help fuel New Zealand’s future to 2050 and beyond”. At an investor day, Channel said it is considering an offer of up to $75m in six-year bonds.

In the foreign exchange market, the NZ dollar was buttoned down by ongoing US dollar strength - trading at 58.29c - its third lowest point in the last 20 years.

Tags: Market Close

« NZ market flattens as investors mull on dataNZX50 sinks to lowest point for 2023 »

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