30 Sep 2013

Likely US shutdown makes investors nervous

7:21 pm on 30 September 2013

The increasingly likely shutdown of the United States government weighed on all financial markets today.

Bank of New Zealand foreign exchange strategist Mike Jones said investors were nervous about both the shutdown and the next political showdown later this month, which could lead to the US defaulting on its debt obligations.

"The markets have opened the week a little bit skittish, a little bit nervous, as we head into a likely US Government shutdown this week," Mr Jones said.

"Investors are pretty keen to just stick to the sidelines and see what happens in that respect, and so the kiwi dollar hasn't done a whole lot."

Just after 5pm, the New Zealand dollar was little changed from Friday, buying: 82.84 US cents, 88.95 Australian cents, 51.23 pence, 0.6134 euro and 81.13 yen.

Sharemarket down

The US political brinkmanship also affected the sharemarket, with the benchmark NZX Top 50 Index falling 46 points, or nearly 1%, to 4736.

Forsyth Barr private client services director Gordon Noble-Campbell said the New Zealand sharemarket has taken its queues from offshore markets.

That included a Wall Street selloff during the weekend, which had been mirrored in New Zealand and Australia today.

As well, Fletcher Building had sold off sharply when the market opened following last Friday's announcement that the Commerce Commission were launching an investigation into its supply agreements with building supplies merchants.

"In the case of Fletcher Building, it's regained some of its losses for morning trading. However, it has followed the market down on the weak Chinese PMI data, which has also had an influence," Mr Nobel-Campbell said.

Fletcher Building shares fell 14 cents to $9.50.

GPG sells Tower stake

The other major driver today was Guinness Peat Group selling its 33.6% stake in Tower at $1.70 per share. Tower shares were unchanged at $1.80, while GPG shares were steady at 57 cents.

The sale was GPG's last remaining asset apart from the threads business, Coats, and it expects cash proceeds of just over $118 million from the sale.