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Health stocks help NZX 50 hit fresh high

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/03/2016 Sophie Boot
New Zealand's benchmark index has been underpinned by demand for income-paying investments. © Getty Images New Zealand's benchmark index has been underpinned by demand for income-paying investments.

New Zealand shares hit a fresh record as health stocks Metlifecare, Ebos Group and Orion Health Group led the index higher.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 37.8 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 6,714.16. Within the index, 33 stocks rose, 10 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $143.3 million.

Metlifecare led the index, rising 4.4 per cent to $5.17, a price not seen since February 2008 while Ebos Group gained 3.3 per cent to $17.36, an all-time high.

"That healthcare and aged care sector just keeps on grinding on - people just keep getting older," said James Smalley, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Orion Health Group grew 4.2 per cent to $3.25. The shares jumped by as much as 6.4 per cent on intraday trading after the medical software provider said it had signed a deal with a major healthcare insurer in the United States which will see its Amadeus platform rolled out to its 3 million-strong membership base.

Steel & Tube Holdings advanced 2.8 per cent to $2.22, Warehouse Group rose 2.1 per cent to $2.88, and Spark New Zealand gained 2 per cent to $3.61.

Air New Zealand edged up 0.4 per cent to $2.86. The airline has hired investment bankers to look at a sale of its 26 per cent stake in Virgin Australia, less than a fortnight after committing to a one-year $A131.2m ($NZ145.86m) loan to the airline.

Chorus was unchanged at $3.99 and has gained 2.1 per cent so far this year.

Contact Energy was the biggest loser, dropping 1.4 per cent to $4.97, while ANZ continued the decline it began last week, down 1.3 per cent to $25.68.

Meridian Energy lost 0.9 per cent, or 2 cents, to $2.57.

Outside the main bourse, Intueri Education Group fell 11.8 per cent to 41 cents. Its financial statements have been tagged by its auditor over the company's ability to continue as a going concern.

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