NZ shares slip on earnings worries

New Zealand stocks have fallen amid speculation the impending earnings season may show the impact of a high kiwi dollar.

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The NZX 50 Index fell 7.730 points, or about 0.2 per cent to 4833.058 on Monday. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 12 rose and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $91.7 million.

Earnings season begins in earnest this week.

SkyCity, which is due to report on Wednesday, fell 1.6 per cent to $5.74. In December the company, which has casinos in Adelaide and Darwin, said first-half profit will fall due to the strong kiwi against the Australian dollar.

“What concerns investors really is the effect of the strong kiwi against the Aussie, which will start to impact on earnings,” said James Smalley, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

“But it will also be in the company’s guidance going forward. The onus will be on companies that have significant Australian exposure to work with the strong kiwi.”

Fletcher Building, which counts Australia as its No.2 market, slipped 0.2 per cent to $8.98, while Brisbane-based jeweller Michael Hill International lost 1.4 per cent to $1.38.

Clothing chain Hallenstein Glasson fell 4.9 per cent to $2.90, its lowest price in more than four years.

As the election draws closer investors also consider the potential for some companies to come under increased regulation, a particular concern for the energy market, Mr Smalley said.

Auckland lines company Vector fell four per cent to $2.38 and Mighty River Power declined 0.8 per cent to $1.975.

Auckland International Airport gained 0.8 per cent to $3.69 and Air New Zealand rose 1.5 per cent to $1.705.

Telecom rose 2.2 per cent to $2.375.

OceanaGold was the index’s best performer on the day, gaining 3.8 per cent to $2.45.

Woodchips to replace welfare for Tiwi

Through the smoke, the silhouettes of a dozen painted Tiwi Islander men dance forward in deliberate, traditional steps to present a message stick to two Japanese businessmen.

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The message is clear: the remote Northern Territory community is ready to do business.

It’s a slogan the NT government has been trumpeting for 18 months, and on Monday in Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, about 80km north of Darwin, several hundred community members witnessed the pay-off, as a memorandum of understanding was signed with Mitsui & Co that will see up to $200 million flow to the Tiwi over the next five years.

The multinational company is Australia’s third largest woodchip exporter, and the deal will enable NT woodchip to be sold to customers in Japan, India and China, and 100 local jobs created.

“This is a day that belongs to Tiwi and others who have believed in our strength to manage our land and to create our own resource upon these islands, and to give us jobs and opportunities that (are) truly our own,” chairman of the Tiwi Land Council, Gibson Farmer Illortaminni, told the community.

“We’re able now to contribute to the security and wellbeing of our people.”

NT Chief Minister Adam Giles said the Tiwi people had spent more than $9 million of their own money on the management of the plantation, which they took on in 2009, and said the partnership will give them some return on that investment.

The Tiwi-owned Tiwi Plantations Corporation manages 30,000 hectares of acacia mangium on neighbouring Melville Island, and will export 3000 hectares a year from a new port there from April.

The Tiwi have a vision to create a private economy, general manager Roger Smith said.

“It’s a commitment to create jobs for their children and grandchildren and income for their communities,” he said.

The MOU is the first step to bolster Tiwi economic confidence, Mr Giles said, and the government is looking into opportunities for further expansion of the fishing, mining and tourism industries in the area.

“Tiwi people are taking control of their own lives … (you) should be proud of the way things are moving forward,” he told the community.

“I want to see others follow in Tiwi footsteps right around the Territory.”

The NT government has been pursuing stronger trade ties with Japan, culminating in two visits by the chief minister last year.

“This is the first investment by Mitsui in the Northern Territory and it happens to be on Aboriginal country with the Tiwi people; that’s a great, outstanding success,” he told reporters.

“A stimulation in economic development, a growth in jobs, and starts that transition from welfare to work – that’s what we all want to see.”

Mr Farmer, who began working in forestry at the age of 17 about 40 years ago, said it was crucial for young Tiwi Islanders to recognise they had a viable future at home and stressed the importance of a move away from welfare dependency.

“We’ve got to get our young people off Centrelink, because there’s jobs out there for our people,” he said.

SBW can get even better: Robinson

Sonny Bill Williams can have an even bigger impact on the NRL this season than his premiership-winning feats of 2013, according to Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.

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In his return to rugby league after a four-year absence, Williams was a key figure in the Roosters’ premiership win last season and was rewarded with selection in the world team of the year.

This season could be his last in rugby league and, with his reintegration into the game complete, no pre-season boxing bout and no injury concerns – a shoulder injury interrupted his 2013 preparation – the Roosters are quietly confident Williams will become an even better player this year as they defend their NRL crown.

“Sonny will be hoping for that; we will be hoping for that,” Robinson told AAP.

“You don’t underestimate Sonny no matter what circumstances lead him into a competition or a code. He has enough grit and determination to make anything work.

“We are really focused on getting better as a team and I’m sure he is as an individual.

“We are not done – we want to keep improving.

“Sonny can build on what he did last year.”

This time last year, opinion was divided on how Williams would fare after defecting to rugby union but the Kiwi dual international more than answered his critics with some memorable performances.

Williams has committed to New Zealand rugby for two years at the end of this season, which means the constant speculation that swirled around his future last year won’t be a distraction for the Roosters in 2014.

“He has been really clear and honest about what he is doing this year and what he wants to do next year so that speculation won’t be there this year,” Robinson said.

“Whatever he decides to do, he will do. Whatever challenges him, he will decide to do.

“It’s perfectly honest – he doesn’t short-cut any team he signs on for. He gives it 100 per cent.

“People have different views about the way of signing those one-year contracts but he challenges himself and he challenges the team he goes to, so I think it is an admirable thing that he does.

“Sonny will create enough headlines this year, but that is what we want in our code. We are grateful to have him here at the Roosters for another year and I think the code should be as well.”

RoboCop knocks Wolf from No 1

Australians were feeling nostalgic over the weekend, with the new RoboCop reboot pushing The Wolf Of Wall Street from its top spot on the Australian box office.

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Last Vegas came in third.

RoboCop, a remake of the 1987 film of the same name, stars Aussie Abbie Cornish as the wife of Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – the man who becomes RoboCop in 2028.

According to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, the action flick earned $2.281 million at the Australian box office, narrowly edging out Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, which took $2.241 million.

In third place was new comedy entry Last Vegas, starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline as four mates who head to Vegas to party when the last bachelor of their group finally decides to tie the knot.

Other newcomers didn’t fare quite as well. The biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom came in fifth, while drama/romance Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, took ninth spot.

However, their arrival pushed films such The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit out of the top ten.

The Steve McQueen film 12 Years A Slave and The Book Thief, starring Geoffrey Rush, dropped two places to fourth and fifth respectively. Frozen and Philomena, both in their seventh week at the box office, came seventh and eighth.

Rounding out the ladder was Saving Mr Banks, which fell five places, but clung onto 10th place.

TOP 10 FILMS FOR THE WEEKEND OF JANUARY 30 TO FEBRUARY 2:

1. RoboCop – $2.281 million (Sony Pictures)

2. The Wolf Of Wall Street – $2.241 million (Roadshow)

3. Last Vegas – $1.640 million (Universal)

4. 12 Years A Slave – $721,272 (Icon)

5. The Book Thief – $649,499 (Fox)

6. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – $569,119 (Roadshow)

7. Frozen – $495,308 (Walt Disney)

8. Philomena – $432,221 (Eone/Hopscotch)

9. Labor Day – $331,560 (Paramount)

10. Saving Mr. Banks – $291,430 (Walt Disney)

Trial begins over WA road rage death

A 36-year-old man was allegedly in a “drug-fuelled road rage” when he crashed his utility into a vehicle, killing a Perth fireman and father-of-four.

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Rodney Allen Beard is on trial in the West Australian Supreme Court charged with manslaughter and doing an act likely to endanger the safety of another person over the death of 51-year-old Mark Noormets in December 2012.

Beard had allegedly been involved in a road rage incident with Doug Wormall, ramming his car several times, but losing control of his ute and veering onto the wrong side of the road, striking the victim’s car.

In her opening address, prosecutor Laura Christian said two men were minding their own business when they encountered Beard on the road.

“Both would become victims of his speed-fuelled road rage,” she told the jury.

Ms Christian said Mr Wormall was terrified and had tried to call triple-zero during the chase, while Mr Noormets died at the scene and Beard’s leg was injured in the crash.

A blood test showed Beard had methylamphetamine and amphetamine in his system, she said.

Alan Feast, 46, testified that he had been a methylamphetamine user for 20 years and bought his drugs from the same woman as Beard.

He said Beard picked him up from a tavern the night before the crash and seemed “off his face”.

“He was agitated and angry,” Mr Feast said.

Asked how he knew Beard had been affected by drugs, Mr Feast replied: “You just know after so long (using).”

Mr Feast said Beard was honking his horn at road users and driving erratically at 140km/h on a highway that night.

The trial continues.