NZ shares fall for a 4th straight day

New Zealand shares fell for a fourth straight day, though losses slowed today, with Tower, Kiwi Property Group and Investore Property.

The S&P/NZX50 Index dropped 14.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7196.24. Within the index, 30 stocks fell, 14 gained and six were unchanged. Turnover was $147.5m.

"The market's a bit softer but it's certainly not as weak as it has been, there's continuation of pressure on some of the larger cap stocks in selling volumes but it's not as big," Shane Solly, director at Harbour Asset Management, said.

"New Zealand's had a massive gain in the stock market, price-to-earnings ratios are at three-decade highs, so our market is very fully priced and we really need strong economic statistics and companies delivering the earnings to support it. We've recently seen companies coming out with reasonably positive comments, but the market as a whole is a bit quieter today."

The local index is down 3.6 percent this week, having lost 2.5 percent on Monday following a Wall Street selloff driven by comments made by US Federal Reserve officials about the likelihood of a US rate increase, and has continued to drop since. It's now at its lowest point since July 20. The Fed's next meeting is over Sept. 20-21 in Washington.

"Everyone's poised and ready for what may come out of the US overnight, but within the next week we'll see a lot more indicators," Solly said.

Steel & Tube Holdings was the worst performer, down 7.5 percent, or 17 cents, to $2.11. It gave up rights to a 13.5 cent final dividend today. Freightways, which gave up a 14.5 cent dividend, fell 21 cents to $6.67, while Comvita gained 3.9 cents to $11.15 despite giving up rights to a 2 cent dividend.

Tower dropped 4.2 percent to $1.02.

Property stocks fell, with Kiwi Property Group shedding 2.6 percent to $1.49, Investore Property down 1.9 percent to $1.58, and Argosy Property declining 1.3 percent to $1.12.

"They've been holding up very well, they've kind of avoided being hit by that interest rate sensitivity up until now but they're seeing some selling," Solly said.

New Zealand Refining Co was the best performer, up 3.7 percent to $2.26, while Sky Network Television rose 2.5 percent to $4.9 and Heartland Bank gained 1.9 percent to $1.58.

Outside the main index, BurgerFuel Worldwide's NZAX-listed shares rose 0.6 percent to $1.61. The burger chain franchisor is going ahead with expansion in North America, despite the ending of its deal with Subway franchisor, Franchise Brands. That deal would have seen the American operator take up to a 50 percent stake in the business, but Subway co-founder Fred de Luca died last year, leaving the agreement in limbo. It's looking to the city of Indianapolis in Indiana as the site of its first potential store in the United States.

- BusinessDesk

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