20 Dec 2013

Dollar rebounds, sharemarket falls

7:17 pm on 20 December 2013

The New Zealand dollar has rebounded against the United States dollar, largely following the Australian dollar.

ANZ foreign exchange market senior manager Sam Tuck said people who had been betting on the Australian dollar falling were squaring up ahead of the holiday period.

"What we have is a period of very light trading over the Christmas period and also relatively light data, so there's not a lot to change the market's opinion of where currencies should be priced over that period," Mr Tuck said.

"We're just seeing some light position squaring going into that period as people trim their positions back."

The New Zealand dollar was enjoying a good phase, so people were happy to hold it over the holiday period, he said.

Just after 5pm, New Zealand dollar was buying 82.07 US cents, 92.49 Australian cents, 50.16 pence, 0.6015 euro and 85.64 yen.

Sharemarket falls

The share market declined, the NZX Top 50 Index falling 26 points to 4681 in what was mostly a featureless day of trading.

Abano Healthcare was one of two companies to report its first-half results, with profit rising 31% largely due to losses from its greenfields audiology businesses dropping by two-thirds.

Managing director Alan Clarke said the Australian audiology business was close to break-even ahead of plan, partly due to the efforts of the chief operating officer appointed about two years ago.

"He achieved a 17% year-on-year growth in a market where other large audiology companies have experienced a decline," Mr Clarke said.

"As a consequence, the loss that we have been working through in terms of building that business up was reduced."

Christchurch-based retailer Smiths City Group also reported its first-half results, with profit rising 12.8% to nearly $2 million dollars in the six months ended October.

Managing director Rick Hellings said sales were tracking well but retail conditions remained competitive.

"It's not so much the overall level of sales as changes within the sales mix. It's mainly trends within the product range but the overall consumer spend, we anticipate, has been reasonably similar this year to last year and we're not expecting it to change a lot."

Shares in Smiths City rose 1 cent to 60 cents, while Abano shares rose 30 cents to $6.30.