16 Aug 2013

Dollar drops after quake halts trading

6:41 pm on 16 August 2013

The New Zealand dollar dropped a third of a cent against the US, and trading on the New Zealand share market was suspended for almost an hour, after a strong earthquake hit the lower North Island.

The magnitude 6.6 quake struck at 2.31pm, and market operator the NZX halted all trading just before 3pm. Trading resumed at 3.45pm.

A senior investment adviser at Macquarie Private Wealth, Brad Gordon, says the trading halt was just a precautionary measure.

"Obviously a number of offices have been vacated in the Wellington region, which means that are not really able to keep an eye, or function as a market," Mr Gordon says.

"Therefore they're taking, I guess it's precautionary, action in case market news were to come out and those participants were compromised in their ability to keep up to date."

At the time trading was stopped, the NZX50 was down 18 points to 4511.

The market closed down 16 points to 4513.

Listed companies such as Tower, Precint Properties, Telecom and Chorus said they did not suffer any damage.

ANZ said trading from its office in Wellington - the nation's biggest trading room - was diverted to other centres after the building was evacuated.

The New Zealand dollar has recovered a little, and was trading at around 80.68 US cents at 5pm.