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NZ shares rise as tech rally boosts Xero

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/06/2017 Sophie Boot

New Zealand shares rose on Thursday, led by Xero which was spurred on by a rally in tech stocks on Wall Street, while blue chip stocks including power company Contact Energy and dual-listed listed bank Westpac also gained.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 36.58 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 7,563.69. Within the index, 31 stocks rose, 15 fell and four were unchanged. Turnover was $150 million.

Wall Street's tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.7 per cent in New York, boosting demand for local accounting software developer Xero which was the best performer, up 2.9 per cent to $26.02.

That was just shy of the three-year record $26.25 the stock reached earlier this month, and added to a 45 per cent this year, bolstered in mid-May when the firm said it was moving closer to its first ever profit as customer numbers continue to swell.

"The tech sector in the US did a little better so Xero has followed that lead and tracked higher, it's had a reasonable few months of performance," said James Lindsay, senior portfolio manager at Nikko Asset Management.

Contact rose 2.3 per cent to $5.29, Westpac gained 1.6 per cent to $31.70, and Spark advanced 1.6 per cent to $3.80.

"A few of the names in the leaders have been related to yield stocks, we've had Contact, Westpac and Spark strongly bid today, but on the news front it's relatively benign," Mr Lindsay said.

SkyCity Entertainment Group was the worst performer, dropping 1.8 per cent to $4.27.

Outside the benchmark index, Seeka was unchanged at $5.10. The kiwifruit grower has confirmed its guidance for a 15 per cent drop in operating profit in 2017 as weaker-than-expected kiwifruit crops offset growth from its avocado sector.

NZME shares rose 2.4 per cent to 84 cents after the media group told shareholders that a High Court appeal against the Commerce Commission's opposition to a planned merger with rival Fairfax will be heard in October.

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