By Sophie Boot
New Zealand shares rose, led by Orion Health Group reporting another major contract, while Comvita is poised to enter the index of top 50 stocks.
The S&P/NZX50 gained 18.46 points or 0.3 percent to 6,734.27 on the same day as Nikko Asset Management's head of equities Stuart Williams described New Zealand's share market as "expensive". Within the index, 24 stocks fell, 17 rose and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $200.3 million.
Orion Health Group led the index, up 4.9 percent to $3.67, a five-month high. The health systems software company announced its second large contract in a fortnight, this time with the largest health service provider in the Australian state of Queensland, Metro North.
"Orion's been one of the better performers in the last while based on these contract announcements," said Peter McIntyre, adviser at Craigs Investment Partners.
"The market's been looking for Orion to sign those meaningful contracts. They've made some good progress after being one of the more high-profile floats - they've basically failed to deliver post-float, but they are making some good momentum."
Spark rose 2.9 percent to $3.54.
Air New Zealand advanced 2.3 percent to $2.945. The airline is launching year-round direct flights to Manila in the Philippines from December.
Auckland International Airport rose 1.1 percent to $6.42.
Fletcher Building gained 1.7 percent to $7.73.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare edged up 1.2 percent to $9.77.
Steel & Tube Holdings advanced 0.9 percent to $2.30. The company, which is being investigated by the Commerce Commission after admitting selling "many thousands of sheets" of earthquake reinforcing mesh incorrectly labelled as being independently certified, says it will now only supply product that has been externally tested.
Heartland Bank was the worst performer, down 2.5 percent, to $1.15.
Kathmandu shed 2.4 percent to $1.66, Westpac lost 2.3 percent to $32.05.
Summerset Group Holdings dropped 2.1 percent to $4.24.
Comvita will enter the S&P/NZX 50 Index if the takeover of Diligent Corp by Insight Venture Partners goes ahead. Trading in Diligent shares is due to be halted on April 11, two days before a special meeting of stockholders.
Comvita rose 5.1 percent to $10.60, while Diligent gained 0.1 percent to $7.12.