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NZX share trading climbs in February, equity market tops $100bln

The volume and value of cash trading on New Zealand's share market rose in February, snapping a decline a month earlier, and helped push the value of the local equity market above $100 billion.

The total number of trades climbed 11 percent to 103,777 in February from the same month a year earlier, while the total value gained 21 percent to $3.2 billion, Wellington-based NZX said in its monthly shareholder metrics. The daily average number of trades rose 11 percent to 5,462 from a year earlier, and was up from 4,346 in January, for a 21 percent gain in the daily average traded to $167 million, also up from January's $108 million.

Share trading continued to dominate with total trades up 11 percent at 101,952 from February 2014 and 85,445 in January, for a 22 percent rise in value traded to $3.1 billion. The value of share trading amounted to $2.1 billion in January.

New Zealand's stock market is enjoying more interest both domestically and abroad, with a glut of listings in the past 18 months driven by the government's partial privatisation programme attracting investors, and as an expanding pool of KiwiSaver funds looks for places to park their money. On top of that, New Zealand's strong dividends on offer are luring international investors seeking real returns as global interest rates remain low after major central banks continue with loose monetary policy.

The value of NZX's equity climbed 18 percent to $101.5 billion, or 42.9 percent of gross domestic product, in February from a year earlier, and was up $99.8 billion, or 42.2 percent of GDP, in January.

The benchmark NZX 50 Index, which is to undergo a rebrand in June after the stock market operator entered into an agreement with S&P Dow Jones Indices, was up 18 percent to 5,878 in February from the same month a year earlier. The index rose 2.3 percent in February, and closed yesterday at a record 5893.661.

The number of listed equity securities increased 3.6 percent to 172 in February from a year earlier, while debt securities fell 3.5 percent to 83. There were 264 listed securities on the board at the end of February, up 2.3 percent from a year earlier.

The debt market's value slipped 2.6 percent to $13.2 billion, or 5.6 percent of GDP, and was unchanged from a month earlier.

The NZX's debt market has been fairly moribund in recent years, with bank funding often cheaper for companies than raising money through bond issues. The number of debt trades fell 13 percent to 1,825, with the value traded down 5.2 percent to $71 million.

Issues raised about $29 million of capital across four events in February, all through primary and secondary equity issues. That takes the year-to-date capital raised to $346 million.

Shares of NZX last traded at $1.15, and are down 1.7 percent this year.