By Sophie Boot
New Zealand shares rose, pushing the NZX 50 Index to a new record close, as a2 Milk extended its rally and Chorus gained. Air New Zealand fell after releasing monthly operating statistics.
The S&P/NZX 50 rose 23.65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6101.27. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 19 fell and seven were unchanged. Turnover was $191 million.
A2 Milk led the index higher, gaining 12 percent to $1.22, an all-time high. The stock has risen 88 percent this year, after starting to rally in mid November as Chinese demand for Australian infant formula outstripped production and investors bet the end of China's one-child policy will underpin sales.
"A2 upgraded their earnings last week and they've had an incredibly sharp rise," said Nick Dravitzki, equity analyst at Devon Funds Management.
Chorus rose 3.3 percent to $3.10, a five-month high. The regulated telecommunications network operator is awaiting the outcome of the Commerce Commission's pricing review of its copper lines.
Utilities rose 1.1 percent as a group, with Genesis Energy up 3.1 percent to $1.97, Meridian Energy rising 2.6 percent to $2.33, and Mighty River Power advancing 1.4 percent to $2.83.
Air New Zealand fell 2.2 percent to $2.73, after the airline released its operating statistics today.
Tower was unchanged at $1.97. The general insurer posted an annual loss as it prepares for more expensive claims from the Canterbury spate of earthquakes, but raised its dividend payout to reflect a stronger underlying earnings performance.
Among smaller stocks, Cavalier Corp rose 34 percent to 55 cents. NPT was unchanged at 63 cents. The property investor increased first-half earnings 6.1 percent as rental income from its retail buildings boosted revenue, while a lift in the value of its overall property portfolio almost doubled profit.