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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall, led by A2, Meridian

New Zealand shares fell as some investors sold A2 Milk Co to lock in recent gains. Meridian Energy declined ahead of its second instalment payment coming due.

The NZX 50 Index fell 4.188 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5831.395. Within the index, 19 stocks fell, 20 rose and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $102 million, in a day marked by quiet trading prior to Easter long weekend.

A2 fell 3.5 percent to 56 cents as investors looked to book the week's 14 percent gains. The milk marketing company debuted on the ASX earlier this and reiterated plans to launch in US from mid-April, in Californian supermarkets and natural products grocers. The company has budgeted US$20 million over the next three years for the new market.

"A2 has had quite a good week following the listing on the ASX earlier in the week and it's just giving up a couple of cents today," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "Volumes have been quite high from a market activity point of view it's been very good to see that ASX listing improve the volumes."

Meridian declined 3 percent to $1.96. The partially privatised energy company listed on the bourse in October 2013, with the shares offered in instalment receipts to sweeten the offer, with $1 upfront and the promise of full entitlement to dividends, and the remaining 50 cents in May 2015.

"That is making a few investors lighten their holdings in order to pay for that extra 50 cents that is upcoming," Williamson said. "That has put that share price just under a little bit of pressure."

Spark New Zealand, formerly Telecom Corp, fell 0.7 percent to $3.05. My Net Fone, an ASX-listed provider of hosted voice and data communications services, has agreed to buy Spark's international voice business for $22.4 million

"That's not material to their business, it's all pretty small stuff," Williamson said.

Xero, the cloud-based accounting firm, rose 1.7 percent to $24. Fletcher Building, construction and building supplies firm, rose 0.5 percent to $8.43.

Outside the benchmark index, Mowbray Collectables was unchanged at 20 cent. The unprofitable listed auction house business has sold its stamps, coins and bank notes collectables business to outgoing chief executive John Mowbray in a bid to return to profitability

On the New Zealand Alternative Index, Chatham Rock Phosphate, which was turned down for a consent for seabed mining, declined 6.3 percent to 1.5 cents. The would-be miner has proposed a deal with associate Aorere Resources which would turn Chatham into a dual-listed company via a reverse listing. Under the proposal, Aorere would acquire the core assets of Antipodes Gold, whose wholly owned Glass Earth (New Zealand) holds an interest in two Waihi gold prospects with Newmont Mining Corp, for $800,000 in shares and $200,000 cash.