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MARKET CLOSE: NZ shares fall; Meridian, Genesis, MRP decline

New Zealand share fell, paced by Meridian Energy, Contact Energy and MightyRiverPower as some investors looked to crystalise recent gains. Fletcher Building fell as investors weighed the construction company's outlook.

The NZX 50 Index fell 21.129 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5471.683. Within the index, 27 stocks fell, 18 rose and five were unchanged. Turnover was $107 million.

The benchmark index has advanced some 16 percent since the start of the year, fuelled in part by investors hunting for yield paying investments in a historically low interest rate environment. Energy companies, held for their reliable income, have rallied in the lead up to and since the Sept. 20 general election, which saw the National-led government return for a third term and removed any threat of further regulation to push down retail electricity prices, as promised by opposition parties.

Power companies fell today as some investors looked to book recent gains. Meridian dropped 2.3 percent to $1.69. Contact declined 1.1 percent to $6.33. MRP fell 0.8 percent to $2.96. Genesis Energy slid 2.1 percent to $2.125.

"It's been a bit of a disappointing day on the market, but our's has been outperforming other markets around the world," said Grant Williamson, director at Hamilton Hindin Greene. "It is profit taking, if you have a look at the electricity generators, which have had good time of it since the election, they're all under pressure today."

Spark New Zealand, formerly Telecom Corp and has gained 38 percent since the start of the year, dropped 0.9 percent to $3.16.

Fletcher Building slipped 1.2 percent to $8.30 and has fallen 1.3 percent since the start of the year, underperforming the benchmark index. The construction and building supplies company is facing headwinds in its Australian business from the historically high kiwi dollar.

"It really has been struggling and underperforming the market for quite some time now," Williamson said. "Investors still being a little bit cautious about that company and its recovery prospects."

Retirement village operators and developers slipped as investors raised cash and rejigged portfolios ahead of the upcoming listing of rival Arvida which is planning to raise $80 million in an initial public offering, Williamson said. Summerset Group Holdings fell 0.4 percent to $2.73. Ryman Healthcare dropped 1.2 percent to $8.09. Metlifecare slipped 0.2 percent to $4.34.

Precinct Properties New Zealand, formerly known as AMP NZ Office, was unchanged at $1.13 after it said it has sold its SAP Tower in Auckland to property mogul Bob Jones for $97 million, $1.4 million above its book value.

New Zealand Oil & Gas led the benchmark index lower falling 3 percent to 65 cents.

Kathmandu Holdings, the outdoor goods retailer, was the best perfomer on the benchmark index today, jumping 6.7 percent to $3.01, having dropped on Friday when it announced margins were under pressure.

Outside the benchmark index, Scales Corp, the fruit and vegetable logistics company, rose 1.4 percent to $1.49 after it said it will pay a 3 cent per share interim dividend and says annual earnings may beat guidance in its prospectus.

Acurity Health Group, the hospital operator set to be taken private by its three biggest shareholders, was unchanged at $7 after it lifted first-half by profit 22 percent to $4.9 million, increasing revenue from district health board work and continued to clamp down on costs.

Smartpay climbed 15 percent to 23 cents after the listed payments terminal supplier launched its taxi booking and payment mobile app as a precursor to a roll-out across the Tasman.

On the NZAX, RIS Group was unchanged at 0.001 cent after it resumed trading when the shell company lodged its overdue annual report, which has been tagged by its auditors and shows it may need to raise more funds to avoid administration.