New Zealand shares rose, with the NZX 50 Index nearing its five-year high, as investors take heart in progress with Christchurch's rebuild and a hot Auckland property market driving Fletcher Building to the highest price in 16 months.
The NZX 50 rose 18.16 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4041.52. Within the index, 21 stocks rose, 21 fell and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $91 million.
Fletcher, the biggest company on the NZX 50, rose 3.4 percent to $8.24, the highest close since July 22 last year. The stock picked up pace since the company told shareholders on November 20 that operating earnings could rise as much as 22 percent in 2013 on new home building.
"We're seeing reasonable momentum in Christchurch in terms of the rebuild," says Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners.
"The last few announcements from the company have been taken pretty positively" and strength in the Auckland housing market has created a wealth effect, he says. "People are happy to renovate the bathroom when values are going up."
The benchmark index has climbed 22 percent this year, about twice the gains of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index.
Among other gainers today, Skellerup Holdings, which manufactures equipment for the dairy industry, rose 3.3 percent from a four-month low to $1.55.
OceanaGold, which slumped after raising $C93.3 million selling 30 million shares for $C3.11 apiece in Canada this week, rose 3.4 percent to $3.65. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which gets more than 50 percent of its sales of respirators and breathing masks in US dollars, rose 0.8 percent to $2.61.
Chorus, the network company spun off from Telecom last year, resumed its slide, falling 2.3 percent to $1.67. The shares tumbled earlier this week after the Commerce Commission released a draft determination on access pricing that the company said could slash annual pretax earnings as much as $160 million.
"Chorus is a really tough one to call," Mr Lister says. "The big unknown is how the regulator is going to approach this. It could be a great buying opportunity if they back away from the position they've taken" but the commission "could take a hard position and the business will suffer".
Goodman Property Trust ended the session unchanged at $1.025. Unitholders today voted in favour of the acquisition of remaining shares in Auckland's Highbrook Business Park for $186.6 million in cash and shares.
Trade Me, the auction website, fell 2.6 percent to $4.14 and carpet maker Cavalier declined 2.3 percent to $1.67.