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Markets taking stock in quake aftermath

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/11/2016 Paul McBeth

Wellington is in shutdown as damage is assessed from a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the upper South Island, although New Zealand's central bank and stock exchange officials say the nation's payments systems is unscathed and the stock market is expected to open as normal.

The quake, centred near Seddon, killed two people, triggered tsunami warnings, cut power and telecommunications in centres such as Kaikoura, and closed Wellington's CBD as damage to inner-city buildings is assessed.

KiwiRail has postponed rail and ferry services in and out of the city, while Wellington International Airport is operating as usual. The rail operator said inspections of the North Island's main trunk line is being held up by aftershocks.

Listed commercial property investor Precinct Properties New Zealand says "while no major damage has been reported based on external visual inspections, thorough inspections are underway to assess whether any damage to the Wellington portfolio has occurred."

About 26 per cent of the property investor's $1.7 billion portfolio is in Wellington.

Wellington-based NZX says it expects trading to open as usual as 10am, while the Reserve Bank said its payments system is operating normally out of its New Zealand office.

Payments NZ chief executive Steve Wiggins said all the core payments systems were functioning well, with no issues at Paymark's main switch and that several banks had confirmed it was business as usual.

Where there might be issues in the payments system was in wireless payments if telecommunications networks have any issues, Wiggins said.

Network operator Chorus said about 2,400 customers didn't have fixed-line services, mainly due to power outages, and that a fibre optic cable connecting Kaikoura was probably damaged by the quake.

"This is likely to have limited the ability of Kaikoura residents to call anyone outside of the town, on either mobile or fixed line services," it said.

Chorus is working with Vodafone and Spark to restore services.

Wellington businesses Xero and Trade Me have told staff to work remotely, but neither anticipate any disruption to their services.

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