An uncertain New Zealand sharemarket suddenly burst into life at the end of another light trading day – with concerns over rising inflation and interest rates still calling the tune.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index had a bumpy day but rose strongly in the last 45 minutes, climbing from a low of 12,753.32 to an intraday high of 12,806.9, up 16.74 points or 0.13 per cent at the close.

Volume, surprisingly, was as low as 37.34 million share transactions worth $72.3 million. There were 74 gainers and 62 decliners across the whole market.

Greg Smith, head of retail for Devon Funds Management, said “I think the institutional investors are a bit late in getting back to the market.

“There’s a bit of lull with little or no corporate news to speak of. People are trying to second guess how the inflation and interest rate dynamic will play out.”

Smith said one positive was that economic growth in China, New Zealand’s key customer, was not slowing as much as expected. China’s gross domestic product increased 4 per cent in the quarter ending December, ahead of the expected 3.6 per cent.

It was, however, the weakest quarterly expansion in 18 months, and economic growth was running at 8.1 per cent for the year, he said.

Market leader Fisher and Paykel Healthcare increased 21 to $31.69; Port of Tauranga gained 7c to $6.50; Chorus collected 6c to $7.04; Serko, which has lately been under pressure, recovered 14c or 2.33 per cent to $6.15; and new listing Ventia Services Group was up 8c or 3.6 per cent to $2.30.

The property companies were stronger. Argosy rose 4.5c or 2.9 per cent to $1.595; Property for Industry gained 4c to $2.96; Goodman Property Trust also increased 4c or 1.54 per cent to $2.63; and Precinct Properties was up 2c to $1.65.

Among the energy stocks, Mercury was up 6c to $6.06, and Meridian was down 11c or 2.31 per cent to $4.66.

SkyCity Entertainment gained 5c to $2.95; Vista Group rose 5c or 2.3 per cent to $2.22; Heartland Group Holdings increased 4c to $2.59; and EROAD was up 8c to $4.88.

T&G Global collected 8c or 2.41 per cent to $2.97; DGL Group picked up 4c to $3.10; My Food Bag gained 2c or 1.8 per cent to $1.13; and CDL Investments increased 4c or 3.7 per cent to $1.12. Honey and health supplements distributor Me Today rose 0.004c or 6.25 per cent to 6.8c.

Rakon and NZME, which had the two biggest individual rises last year, continued to fall. Rakon was down 4c or 1.97 per cent to $1.99, and NZME declined 5c or 4 per cent to $1.20.

Freightways was down 26c or 2 per cent to $12.72; Mainfreight declined 85c to $92.15; and wine exporter Delegat Group decreased 15c to $14.

The retail stocks were mixed. The Warehouse Group fell another 8c or 2.29 per cent to $3.42, Michael Hill International was down 4c or 2.56 per cent to $1.47; Briscoe Group gained 10c to $6.55; and Hallenstein Glasson was up 7c to $6.95.

Other decliners were Napier Port, down 3c to $3.03; Vulcan Steel decreasing 7c to $9.99; Livestock Improvement Corporation falling 10c or 7.14 per cent to $1.30; Smartpay Holdings shedding 2.5c or 3.38 per cent to 71.5c; and ikeGPS down 5c or 6.41 per cent to 73c.

Chatham Rock Phosphate rose 0.009c or 7.26 per cent to 13.3c after announcing it is starting a feasibility study to produce dicalcium phosphate from the Korella and Korella South mines in Queensland. The phosphate is an essential ingredient in the diet of farmed animals and has recently struck supply chain difficulties.

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