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NZ shares fall as new virus cases appear in China

Monday, June 15th 2020, 6:51PM

by BusinessDesk

New Zealand shares fell as a spate of new covid-19 cases in China spoiled investor sentiment across Asia. Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group led the market lower.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 41.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,864.12. Within the index, 32 stocks fell, 16 rose, and two were unchanged. Turnover was $198 million.

Sentiment across Asia took a hit after Beijing recorded a spate of new covid-19 cases in a major wholesale food market. Authorities have closed the centre and locked down nearby housing districts.

Weaker than expected retail and industrial production data in China, and the fear of a resurgence of the virus, caused Asian markets to fall.

The ASX 200 Index dropped 2 percent percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 1.6 percent, Japan’s Topix fell 1.9 percent and Shanghai’s SSE Composite was down 0.5 percent.

Matthew Goodson, managing director at Salt Funds Management, said Wall Street was expected to fall tonight, which may weigh on the local market tomorrow.

“The bounce we’ve had is starting to fade a little bit given the weakness in US futures,” Goodson said.

“More covid cases in China is unhelpful and hopes for a trans-Tasman bubble any time soon have been pushed back a little.”

SkyCity led the market lower, dropping 4 percent to $2.64. The company runs hotels that rely on international travellers and its casinos have historically benefited from wealthy customers visiting from Asia.

Other travel and transport companies were weaker. Tourism Holdings fell 3.5 percent to $2.23, Air New Zealand declined 2.5 percent to $1.58 and Auckland International Airport slipped 0.8 percent to $6.43.

Utility software developer Gentrack sank 3.8 percent to $1.54. Today, executive chairman John Clifford announced he would resign due to health issues.

On Friday, it was announced that Gentrack would be relegated out of the NZX 50 with Napier Port taking its place. Shares of Napier Port fell 4.8 percent to $3.70, while Port of Tauranga rose 0.7 percent to $7.21.

Financial services firm Heartland Group fell 3.8 percent to $1.64. The dual-listed banks also declined, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group down 1.7 percent to $19.85 and Westpac Banking Corp 1.1 percent lower at $18.78.

Synlait Milk posted the day’s biggest gain, up 4.2 percent at $7.14, on a relatively light volume of 330,000 shares.

Vista Group International, which declined more than 10 percent last week, rose 1.8 percent to $1.69. Kathmandu Holdings advanced 3.6 percent to $1.15. 

Outside the NZX 50, Augusta Capital surged 31.4 percent to 90 cents after ASX-listed Centuria Capital made another bid to acquire Augusta, this time at $1 a share in cash and scrip.

Goodson said the initiative was promising despite the offer being half what it was before the pandemic.

“While it is not the $2 a share that was bid pre-covid, things have changed,” Goodson said.

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