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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares rise in shortened session

New Zealand shares rose in a shortened pre-Christmas session, with Hallenstein Glasson Holdings leading some retailers higher after figures showed seasonal sales are tracking ahead of last year.

Metlifecare fell after joining the benchmark index. The NZX 50 Index rose 3.08 points, or 0.1%, to 4057.82. Within the index, 25 stocks rose, 16 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was just $33.4 million.

Hallenstein rose 3% to $5.50 in modest trading. Jeweller Michael Hill International rose 1.6% to $1.24, outdoor equipment chain Kathmandu rose 1% to $1.99 and The Warehouse Group, the biggest retailer on the NZX 50, gained 1% to $3.

Figures from Paymark, which processes about 75% of the nation's electronic retail transactions, show sales last week are up 2.6% on the same week of 2011. Local stocks gained even after key benchmarks on Wall Street were down 0.9%.

"It's very quiet Christmas trading and not a bad performance considering what happened offshore," said David Price, a broker at Forsyth Barr. "There's no corporate news and unlikely to be for the next couple of weeks."

The kiwi dollar has fallen to a three-week low, and that's helped underpin the local stock market, he said.

PGG Wrightson, the nation's largest rural services company, rose 5% to 42c and was the biggest gainer on the benchmark index.

Metlifecare, the retirement village operator, fell 1.9% to $3.07 in its first day trading in the NZX 50. Summerset Group, the other retirement village added to the index today, rose 0.5% to $2.23.

They replaced NZ Refining, up 2.9% to $2.50 today, and Goodman Fielder, unchanged at 76c.

Fletcher Building, the biggest company on the NZX 50, rose 0.6% to $8.30. Telecom rose 0.9% to $2.28 and Contact Energy fell 1.7% to $5.30.

NZX, the stock market operator, rose 2.5% to $1.22. Port of Tauranga fell 1.3% to $13.08 and fishing company Sanford fell 1.6% to $4.25.

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