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Market close: NZX 50 up on still-positive tone - 26 shares rise, 10 fall

New Zealand shares rose in relatively light trading, the positive tone led by high-yielding retailer Pumpkin Patch and the country's largest construction company, Fletcher Building.

The NZX 50 Index rose 22.16 points, or 0.53 percent, to 4153.91 at 5pm. Within the index, 26 stocks rose, while 10 fell, leaving 14 unchanged. Turnover was $69.0 million in light early new year trading.

"We've seen a bit of a continuation of the first two weeks of the year," says Bryon Burke at Craigs Investment Partners. "Stocks are edging up, albeit in patchy trading. The big picture is there's still quite a bit of momentum for equities."

Leading gainers was Pumpkin Patch, up 6.47 percent to $1.48, while heavyweight Fletcher Building rose 1.61 percent to $8.86, on the same day as the Westpac McDermott-Miller employment intentions index showed strong growth in job hiring intentions in Christchurch, where the post-earthquake rebuild now appears to be gaining momentum.

Transport logistics firms Freightways and Mainfreight moved in opposite directions, with Freightways gaining 1.6 percent to $4.45, while Mainfreight was off on small volumes by 0.76 percent at $11.80, after last week cracking $12 a share for the first time.

PGG Wrightson led falling stocks, dropping 2.08 percent to 47 cents, followed by online accounting software play Xero, down 1.29 percent to $7.10.

New Zealand Oil and Gas was off 1.14 percent to 87 cents after announcing spudding in of a well in one of its Sumatran prospects, at an initial cost to the company of $US6.5 million. The well is NZOG's first offshore drilling initiative.

Mr Burke says the global trend towards equities is likely to continue affecting New Zealand shares, notwithstanding the local bourse's out-performance of larger exchanges in 2012, because yields continued to be unattractive in fixed interest and bonds.

"The worst case scenario for us, while interest rates are low, is that equities may not perform as well, but there's nowhere else to go."

(BusinessDesk)

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