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Fletcher feels chill in slowing house market

THE chief executive of New Zealand's largest company, Jonathan Ling of Fletcher Building, has warned Australia's housing sector was showing "clear signs" of slowing down, while reporting a full-year profit result heavily affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

THE chief executive of New Zealand's largest company, Jonathan Ling of Fletcher Building, has warned Australia's housing sector was showing "clear signs" of slowing down, while reporting a full-year profit result heavily affected by the Christchurch earthquakes.

"Market conditions have been tougher than we anticipated at the start of the year, with no recovery evident in New Zealand, and Australia showing clear signs of having slowed in the second half," he said.

Fletcher, which is also listed in Australia, reported a 4 per cent rise in full-year net profit to $NZ283 million ($225 million). Net operating earnings before one-off items were $NZ359 million, up from $NZ301 million the year before.

The results include three months of operating earnings ($NZ29 million) from Crane Group, which was bought during the year after a drawn-out takeover.

Mr Ling said that while trading conditions in North America and Europe were likely to remain flat, he hoped for a gradual improvement in residential building in Australia in the medium term, given the underlying strength of the economy.

Fletcher Building is project managing the recovery effort in Christchurch, in which about 80,000 affected houses will be repaired.


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