NZ shares rise towards five-year high

New Zealand shares rose, nudging the NZX 50 Index back toward the five-year high charted last month, as Australian interest drove Xero to a record and Fletcher Building gained after agreeing to buy a laminated panels business in India.

The NZX 50 rose 26.07 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 3983.99. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 13 fell and 13 were unchanged.

Turnover was $78.7 million.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting services company that dual listed on the ASX last week, rose 8.6 per cent to $6.30, giving it a market value of $622.

That's even before the fast-growth company, which listed on the NZX in June 2007, has turned a profit. It has gained 110 per cent this year.

Listing on the ASX "opens up more buying in the stock - that's what we've seen", said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Fletcher Building rose 3.3 per cent to $7.48 after its local affiliate, Formica Laminates (India) Private, agreed to buy the laminates manufacturing business of listed Indian manufacturer Well Pack Papers & Containers in the Indian state of Gujurat for 365 million rupees ($8.2 million).

Contact Energy fell 2.6 per cent to $5.21 after its controlling shareholder, Australia's Origin Energy, warned last week that regulatory and pricing decisions would cut underlying profit as much as 10 per cent this year.

Among smaller stocks, Genesis Research and Development was halted from trading at 1.8 cents and told the ASX it may not have enough funds to keep operating without a loan or more support from shareholders.

Telecom, the biggest phone company on the NZX 50, rose 1 per cent to $2.435, and Chorus, the networks company spun off from Telecom last year, rose 0.9 per cent to $3.27. Chorus has gained 3.9 per cent this year.

Retailer Warehouse Group rose 0.3 per cent to $3.19 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare climbed 1.2 per cent to $2.46.

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