Market Close: Local stocks rally as US indices trek higher

Canny investors moved some of their money from the on-fire energy companies into higher-dividend defensive stocks as the New Zealand sharemarket gained another half per cent.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index increased 72.51 points or 0.54 per cent to 13,558.19 in late trading after drifting for most of the day.

The rally came after the United States markets overnight headed towards record highs again.

Local volume was strong with 81.32 million shares worth $260.32m changing hands, and there were 84 gainers and 64 decliners over the whole market.

Fast-rising Meridian and Contact Energy were stalled by profit-taking. Meridian fell 26c or 2.77 per cent to $9.14 on trade worth $74m, after reaching a low of $8.55 during the day’s trading. Contact fell as low as $10.13 but recovered to close at $10.75, up 15c or 1.42 per cent on trade worth $46.4m.

Sam Dickie, senior portfolio manager with Fisher Funds, said it looks like some investors are taking the Meridian and Contact money and putting it into other dividend-yielding stocks.

He said the rise in price of those energy stocks has been the story of the week.

The iShares Global Clean Energy exchange-traded fund has increased its issue of shares and has gone out and bought more stocks, including Meridian and Contact.

“These stocks now make up more than 10 per cent of the fund which has bought $850m worth of Meridian and Contact shares over the past three months.

“Renewable energy stocks are in vogue. How long this will last is anyone’s guess,” said Dickie.

Two recent strong movers had a down day. Ebos Group fell 70c or 2.38 per cent to $28.70, and Freightways shed 20c or 1.87 per cent to $10.50.

The Warehouse Group upgraded its half-year earnings and its share price rose 5c or 1.82 per cent to $2.80.

Fellow retailer Briscoe Group is also benefiting from the consumer spend-up, rising 16c or 3.08 per cent to $5.35.

Electronics manufacturer Rakon maintained its revival, climbing 5c or 6.94 per cent to 77c —a rise of more than 50 per cent since it sat at 50c on December 24.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.69 per cent to 31,041.13, the S&P 500 Index was up 1.48 per cent to 3803.79, and the technology-driven Nasdaq Composite rose 2.56 per cent to 13,067.48.

The Democratic sweep of the US Governmentgave fresh hope that more economic stimulus was on its way — including US$2000 ($2754) cheques for most Americans andincreased infrastructure spending.

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