5 Feb 2018

NZX top 50 down after US's weekend plunge

7:46 pm on 5 February 2018

The New Zealand share market has had its biggest one day fall in more than a year as a major drop on Wall Street spooked local investors.

NZX

Photo: NZX / Supplied

New Zealand's top 50 index was down about 1.5 percent, or 130 points, in the first hour of trading today.

It closed down more than 2 percent, or 173 points to 8242, its biggest single-session fall since early November 2016.

Markets across the Asia-Pacific region have fallen sharply after Wall Street had its worst session in two years because stronger than expected jobs numbers may lead to stronger inflation and cause higher interest rates.

Interest rates in major economies have been held at record lows to stimulate economies recovering from the global financial crisis of a decade ago.

That in turn has helped to drive share markets to record highs.

Last year the New Zealand market rose 22 percent.

"One of the tailwinds for investors has been very, very low interest rates," Brad Gordon of Hobson Wealth Partners said.

"People haven't been able to put their money into interest rate instruments because they couldn't earn enough yield, so they've looked to equities."

All but one of the top 50 New Zealand stocks closed lower, with falls of more than 3 percent for some of the recent best performers including A2 Milk, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, and Synlait Milk.

"In a way this is a rebalancing and we just have to see where interest rates settle," Mr Gordon said.

"I think what's spooked investors has just been the speed of it."

The US markets have been tracking in the record zone since Donald Trump was elected President, because of tax reforms and infrastructure spending plans.

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