By Sophie Boot
New Zealand shares rose as global markets rallied after a bounce in oil prices, with investors' search for growth pushing Xero, A2 Milk and Nuplex up while Spark fell.
The S&P/NZX 50 Index climbed 53.64 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6175.3. Within the index, 36 stocks rose, nine fell and five were unchanged. Turnover was $99.7 million.
"We are having a bit of a rally, consistent with other markets, and driven by higher growth businesses like A2 and Xero," said Shane Solly, director at Harbour Asset Management.
Xero, the cloud-based accounting software developer, led the market, up 5.3 percent to $17.40, while A2 Milk rose 5.1 percent to $1.85, a three-week high.
"A2 rallied higher pre-Christmas and came back a little, as the rest of the market has over the New Years period. It's just starting to find some renewed interest again," Solly said.
Blue-chip stock Fletcher Building gained 3 percent to $6.98, and Nuplex advanced 2.4 percent to $4.35.
Markets across Asia rose after a positive close to Wall Street following a bounce in oil prices. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 1.9 percent, Japan's Nikkei gained 0.8 percent, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 reached a 10-day high, up 1.5 percent at 5.15pm New Zealand time.
Dual-listed Australian banks advanced with the ASX up. ANZ gained 3.6 percent to $25.90, while Westpac rose 3.2 percent to $33.02.
Trade Me, which earlier reached an intra-day low of $4.05, ended the day up 2.2 percent to $4.26.
Orion Health Group rose 2 percent to $3.06.
Spark was the worst performer on the index today, down 2.1 percent to $3.27.
Steel & Tube Holdings fell 1.8 percent to $2.21. Meridian Energy dropped 1.1 percent to $2.325, and Fonterra Shareholders Fund shed 0.7 percent to $5.85.