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Westpac leads sharemarket lower after result

New Zealand shares fell, led by Westpac Banking Corp, after the Australian lender's earnings missed expectations, weighing on other dual-listed financial services firms including ANZ Banking Group and AMP.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index slipped 11.49 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 8053.63. Within the index, 20 stocks fell, 21 rose, and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $105 million.

New Zealand's benchmark index followed the S&P/ASX 200 index down as dual-listed Westpac posted a 3 per cent increase in annual profit to A$8.06 billion, missing expectations for stronger earnings growth.

The dual-listed lender's New Zealand division posted flat earnings, buoyed by a reversal of year-earlier charges on bad debt. Westpac fell 2.6 per cent to $36.05 on the NZX, leading the market lower, while ANZ declined 0.4 per cent to $33.08 and AMP decreased 0.2 per cent to $5.59.

"There was a bit of expectation going into the result," said Shane Solly, a portfolio manager at Harbour Asset Management. "It wasn't bad, it just wasn't good enough."

Solly said trading across Australia and New Zealand was relatively quiet, with some investors likely to have taken a long weekend ahead of the Melbourne Cup today, known as 'the race that stops a nation'.

A2 Milk Co fell 2.1 per cent to $7.98. The milk marketing firm has soared about 283 per cent so far this year after securing Chinese regulatory approval to sell its brands into the world's most populous nation, but has since tempered some of those gains. Processing partner Synlait Milk dropped 1.9 per cent to $7.85.

Xero declined 2 per cent to $34.05 ahead of the software developer's first-half earnings on Thursday. Solly said investors are increasing their scrutiny of the firm as it gets nearer to profitability.

Metro Performance Glass posted the biggest gain on the benchmark, rising 3.3 per cent to 94c. The glass processing firm slumped to a record low last week as investors continued to question its ability to widen margins. Fletcher Building, another construction firm that's been beaten up for falling short of expectations, rose 0.1 per cent to $7.19.

Trustpower rose 2.4 per cent to $5.97 after the electricity generator-retailer posted an 80 per cent gain in first-half profit as North Island production was stoked by favourable weather swelling hydro-lakes in those areas. Controlling shareholder Infratil, which reports on Friday, gained 0.8 per cent to $3.255.


Other companies reporting this week include Z Energy, which gained 1.1 per cent to $7.24, and Goodman Property Trust, which was down 0.8 per cent to $1.30.

Mercury NZ was unchanged at $3.36 ahead of today's annual meeting, while NZ King Salmon Investments slipped 0.4 per cent to $2.29 before its meeting.

IkeGPS gained 6.7 per cent to 32c after announcing an upgraded sales account for its IKE4 platform.

Fonterra Shareholders Fund units rose 0.6 per cent to $6.32 after Fonterra Cooperative Group bought into a US joint venture to secure whey-protein concentrate supply in North America.

Among blue-chip stocks, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare increased 0.9 per cent to $13.07, Auckland International Airport slipped 0.5 per cent to $6.165, Contact Energy declined 0.4 per cent to $5.75, Mainfreight gained 0.6 per cent to $24.75, and Spark decreased 0.8 per cent to $3.61.

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