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MARKET CLOSE: NZX 50 edges down after Nuplex profit warning

03 Feb 2009 11:58businesswire

      New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 Index snapped a five-day advance after Nuplex Industries cut its earnings forecast because of one-time charges and a drop in demand in Europe.

      The NZX 50 fell 2.65, or 0.1%, to 2771.50. Within the index, 22 stocks fell, 19 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was NZ$71.2 million. Auckland-based Nuplex fell 7.3% to NZ$2.67 after saying pretax earnings would be NZ$42.5 million in the first half and similar in the second, down from its November forecasts.
OceanaGold Corp., New Zealand's largest gold mining company, jumped 12% to 65 cents after announcing a 49% increase in full-year gold sales to 264,124 ounces. Gold for immediate delivery was at $917.78 an ounce in Singapore today. Guinness Peat Group fell 4.8% to 79 cents.

      APN News & Media, the Australia-based publisher of the New Zealand Herald, fell 1.2% to NZ$2.40, extending its slide for a fourth day after Tony O'Reilly's Independent News abandoned efforts to sell its 39% stake in the media company.

      Fletcher Building slipped 1.2% to NZ$5.58 as Australian government figures showed house prices fell 0.8% last quarter for an annual decline of 3.3%. Figures in New Zealand today showed wages growth slowed to 0.7% in the fourth quarter, according to government figures, as a contracting economy reduced demand for workers, giving the central bank more room to extend its interest rate cuts this year.

      Investors are awaiting the release of the Household Labour Force Survey for the fourth quarter, which is expected to show the jobless rate rose to 4.7% in the fourth quarter, when the economy probably extended its contraction. “It’s not as though anyone, and especially businesses, should reasonably expect a return to growth anytime soon,” said Craig Ebert, economist at Bank of New Zealand, in a report. “The recession looks to be digging a bigger hole under our feet as we speak.”

      Trucking firm Mainfreight fell 3.1% to NZ$4.05 while gas and electricity distributor Vector fell 1.8% to NZ$2.17. Pike River Coal slipped 1% to 99 cents. Rakon, which makes parts of navigation systems, rose 4.2% to NZ$1, leading gainers on the index today.

      In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.2% to 3497.4 after figures showed Australian manufacturing contracted for the eighth straight month in January. The performance of manufacturing index rose 2.9 points to 36.6 from the previous month, according to the survey from the Australian Industry Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers. A reading below 50 signals a contraction.

      Investment group Macquarie Group fell 3% to A$25.21.    BHP Billiton fell 1.6% to A$30.01 after the U.K.’s Independent newspaper said chairman Don Argus may announce his retirement as soon as this month.
Rio Tinto jumped 5.5% to A$44.45 after the company said it is in talks with Aluminum Corp. of China, known as Chinalco, for assistance in trimming back some US$38.9 billion of debt. The Chinese company may buy convertible notes or stakes in some of Rio’s business units, it said.

      In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 Index fell 1.5% to 7873.98.


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