New Zealand shares have closed lower, led by Diligent Board Member Services and carpet maker Cavalier.

The NZX 50 Index fell 16.385 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4513.877. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 11 gained and 14 were unchanged. Turnover was about $120 million.

Diligent, which this month confirmed it will have to restate three years of revenue, fell 4.3 per cent to $5.12 even after the Accident Compensation Corp disclosed on Friday that it had lifted its stake this week to about 6.3 per cent from five per cent, buying 285,000 shares for $1.6m or about $5.62 each.

Tower, the general insurer, slipped 0.6 per cent to $1.69 after a 6.6 magnitude quake shook Wellington. The company said it was aware of only minor damage.

"Continuing quakes aren't helpful to the insurance sector," said Grant Williamson, a director at Hamilton Hindin Greene.

Tower's slide, though, has more to do with new requirements to hold more capital, he said.

Cavalier, the carpet maker, fell 6.7 per cent to $1.40 after reporting annual profit of $3m, from a year-earlier loss of $1.6m. Sales fell seven per cent. Profit included one-time costs of $4.1m to consolidate its Auckland tufting operations as it moves to cut costs.

"It's a pretty tough environment for them," Mr Williamson said. The stock declined was "a bit of an overreaction. The result was disappointing but not unexpected".

Michael Hill international, the jewellery chain, was the biggest gainer on the NZX 50, rising 5.4 per cent to $1.37 after reporting a 9.6 per cent gain in annual profit as sales growth was underpinned by the retailer opening new stores, offsetting flat revenue on a same-store basis.

Steel & Tube Holdings rose about two per cent to $2.56 after the steel building supplies company lifted full-year profit by 19 per cent even as sales fell, as it benefited from lower prices for unfinished steel, its main input cost.

 

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