By Sophie Boot
New Zealand shares rose as blue-chip stocks Spark New Zealand and Fletcher Building bounced back from recent dips, while the month's stronger performers, a2 Milk Co and NZX, gave up some of their gains.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index rose 27.15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6147.97. Within the index, 20 stocks were up, 19 were down and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $151.7 million.
Overnight, Wall Street ended on a positive note with the Nasdaq Composite Index advancing 1 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rising 0.8 percent and the Dow Jones Index up 0.7 percent. Asian markets were more mixed, with China's Shanghai Composite index down 0.5 percent in afternoon trading, Japan's Nikkei 225 index edging up 0.02 percent, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index up 0.2 percent.
Spark rose 3.2 percent to $3.24, a two-week high and leading the benchmark index higher. The stock had fallen 7.6 percent from $3.40 since December 1. Fletcher Building rose 1.1 percent to $7.11, after falling 4.6 percent to $7 since the start of the month.
Xero rose 2.5 percent to $18.40.
Stock market operator NZX performed worst today, down 2.8 percent to $1.04. The shares had gained 12 percent this month.
A2 fell from its recent rally, falling 2.4 percent to $1.62. The stock had risen 51 percent to a record $1.66 over the past two days after the milk marketer raised its forecast for 2016 operating earnings for a second time this year.
AFT Pharmaceuticals rose 11 percent to $3.10 in its NZX debut, after raising $35.6 million in an initial public offering.
Outside the NZX 50, Pushpay Holdings rose 6.4 percent to $6.28. Vista Group International was unchanged at $5.79, and Mercer Group was unchanged at 0.051 cents.