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NZX share trading rises for second month in March

The volume and value of cash trading on New Zealand's stock market rose for the second consecutive month in March as the NZX 50 Index rose to record levels, pushed higher by demand for income-paying stocks.

The total number of trades increased 5.1 percent to 124,598 in March from a year earlier, while the value traded rose 14 percent to $3.7 billion, Wellington-based NZX said in a statement. The daily average number of trades was static at 5,773 from a year earlier, while the daily average value of trades was up 8.6 percent from March last year to $172 million.

New Zealand listed companies' relatively high dividends 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 14 percent to $99.3 billion, or 42 percent of gross domestic product, in March from a year earlier.

The 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 14 percent to 5,834 in March from the same month a year earlier.

The number of listed equity securities increased 3.6 percent to 171 in March from a year earlier, while debt securities fell 4.7 percent to 81. There were 261 listed securities on the board at the end of March, up 2 percent from a year earlier.

The debt market's value dropped 10 percent to $12.1 billion, or 5.1 percent of GDP. 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 10 percent to 2,405 with the value traded down 2.2 percent to $82 million.

Shares of NZX last traded at $1.10 and have fallen 6 percent since the start of the year.