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NZ shares fall, led by Comvita, SkyCity

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/10/2016 Sophie Boot

The a2 Milk Co. logo © Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg The a2 Milk Co. logo New Zealand shares fell, following the Australian market lower as Comvita suffered from weaker sales, while A2 Milk Co and SkyCity Entertainment Group dropped.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index fell 106.67 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 6,896.2. Within the index, 41 stocks fell, five rose and four were unchanged. Turnover was $124 million.

"The index is being dominated by the inflation data out of Australia today which was a bit stronger than expectations," said Craig Stent, a director at Harbour Asset Management.

"The likelihood of them cutting rates is a lot lower now, and the Australian market's down 2 per cent as we speak, so that's flowed on - the idea that stimulus from central banks could be removed has led to repricing of some of these yield-sensitive stocks and the demand for them may not be as great going forward."

Comvita led the index lower, down 11.4 per cent to $9.44. The manuka honey and health products company warned its first-half result is likely to be a loss after tough trading in the first quarter of the 2017 financial year resulted in an unexpected drop in sales.

"It's disappointing for a growth company, clearly the channels into China have slowed a bit, though they did say there had been a bounceback of late," Mr Stent said.

"It's disappointing given the expectation of 10 to 15 per cent growth. You're seeing the same thing flow to A2 Milk as well, the potential impact of regulatory changes. The whole sector's pulling out in sympathy from the comments those companies are making."

A2 Milk Co dropped 4.4 per cent to $6.53, while Auckland International Airport fell 5.2 per cent to $6.53 and Scales Corp dropped 4 per cent to $2.92.

SkyCity Entertainment Group shed 2.8 per cent to $3.79. The shares began falling last week in response to the arrest of 18 staff employed by its Australian rival, Crown Resorts, by the Chinese government.

"The Chinese have detained some more people overnight, they invited some of the junket operators and high rollers in for a cup of tea," Mr Stent said.

"There are further issues there and that's spooked gamblers from potentially coming across from China to Australia, Macau or wherever - they're trying to crack down on money exiting the Chinese markets. SkyCity's woes which they announced last week predate these issues anyway."

Restaurant Brands is in a trading halt at $5.46 pending the result of an institutional bookbuild.

On Wednesday it announced plans to buy Pacific Island Restaurants, the largest fast food operator in Hawaii with 82 Taco Bell and Pizza Hut stores.

Spark New Zealand dropped 1.3 per cent to $3.545. Senior executive Jolie Hodson has sold almost all of her ordinary shares in the country's biggest telecommunications business, details filed with the NZX show.

Air New Zealand was the best performer on the index, up 0.8 per cent to $1.925, while Stride Property gained 0.5 per cent to $1.89.

Skellerup Holdings gained 1.4 per cent to $1.43. The industrial rubber goods maker expects annual profit to rise as much as 7 per cent, recovering from last year's decline, as it puts greater emphasis on potable water applications and food safety.

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