Summary Some of the NZX’s most prominent companies hold AGMs today, with Air NZ, Heartland, Freightways and Sky TV all updating. Christchurch businesses will be waiting to hear whether the city will move to level three after two cases were found there, and people in the Waikato see eased restrictions from today that will enable them to restart golfing and fishing.

Covid update Waikato people in level three wake up to eased conditions that will allow them to meet in gatherings of up to 10 people from two households, and to resume outdoor activities such as golfing, horse riding lessons, fishing, diving and hunting. Meanwhile, Christchurch people will be concerned they may go into level three lockdowns as two covid cases have been discovered. In Auckland, a group of principals will meet education minister Chris Hipkins online to discuss how to get primary and intermediate school children back to school by November 15. There are no firm plans yet for students in years nine and ten.

Off the planet? Locked-down Auckland has been named Lonely Planet's number one city to visit in 2022 in a new book. This is the first time the city has taken out the top spot and it was last in the top ten in 2014. Lonely Planet's Chris Zeiher said it was an amazing recognition of Auckland and its surrounding attractions. "Within the city’s boundaries there are 53 volcanoes, more than 50 islands, three wine regions and numerous beaches that make this a truly exciting and vibrant city." A press release from the region's tourism and economic development agency was realistic, saying "it’s clear that locals will be the first to explore the freshly-crowned top travel destination as Auckland transitions to the government’s new covid-19 protection framework once vaccination targets are met across the region". The lists were compiled independently by a panel of Lonely Planet contributors across the globe and judged against criteria addressing topicality, unique experiences, ‘wow’ factor and sustainability.

Rent drop Moving companies could be in for a busy time with the national median rent dropping for the first time in eight months. Anecdotal evidence has been signalling a rent drop for some weeks, with some households seizing the opportunity to move to cheaper, better-quality accommodation. In the two main centres, rents have stalled.

Heartland beats on Heartland holds its annual meeting today, the last one for outgoing COO Laura Byrne. In keeping with the bank’s focus on digital operations, Mike Grenfell, who has previously worked for the AA as chief information officer, takes over on Nov 8. The financial services group’s share price has recovered from its covid-related low of 92 cents in March last year to $2.35.

Flight fight Air New Zealand goes into its annual meeting today fresh from announcing the cancellation of hundreds of domestic flights due to Auckland’s continuing lockdown, and the loss of a key executive. COO Carrie Hurihunganui is leaving to run Auckland Airport. The national carrier has also announced it will begin quarantine-free flights in November to Sydney for vaccinated Australians still stuck in NZ since the travel bubble burst, and Australian executives based in NZ. Air NZ’s share price has bumped along between highs of $1.92 and lows of $1.26 since the pandemic hit, and is currently on $1.66.

Freightways updates Courier company Freightways has put a strong focus this year on retaining and better remunerating its couriers for their work, and pricing services more sharply in an effort to boost the company’s market share and performance as pandemic impacts bite. In keeping with overseas trends, the company has invested in satellite depots to offset the impacts of increased deliveries against increasingly congested and intensified cities. The company holds its annual meeting today, and will highlight last week’s purchase announcement of chilled-freight company ProducePronto which will boost Freightways’ ability to deliver chilled produce.

Troubled year Sky TV enters its AGM today off a troubled year that has seen the departure of a number of executives and a review that found a toxic, bullying culture. Its former CEO Martin Stewart left at the end of 2020 in an exit that saw him paid $2.8 million. The share price freefall through 2020 was arrested with the appointment of former legal counsel Sophie Moloney as CEO, and has since mainly hovered between $1.27 and $2.04.

Sharesies value rises Sharesies latest capital raise, led by global venture firm Amplo, has more than tripled the investment platform’s value which is now worth half a billion dollars. The three Sharesies CEOs – Brooke Roberts, Sonya Williams, and Leighton Roberts – each own a 6.2% stake, worth $31m apiece. The company was founded in 2017 with the goal of making investing in NZ equities easier but is now worth more than the stock exchange it first provided access to. If it were listed on the NZX, Sharesies would now have a market capitalisation just below fleet management firm Eroad – at $517m – and just above stock market operator NZX, worth $485m.

Facebook crisis Facebook is weathering its worst crisis since the Cambridge Analytica scandal as whistleblower Frances Haugen continues to detail how the social media giant repeatedly put profit before the wellbeing of its users. The revelations from thousands of leaked company documents included in the Facebook Papers only bolster the case that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mounted against Facebook last year and seeks to reduce its monopoly power by carving off Instagram and WhatsApp.

ANZ results ANZ releases its annual results today, as it raises mortgage interest rates and forecasts more to come. The bank has hit several bumps in the road this year, with a class action to obtain fees refunds underway and an investigation launched to review continued access by departed contractors and staff to critical technology platforms. ANZ is among a number of banks that have experienced cyber-attacks.

UK Budget UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has painted a positive picture of the economy as it emerges from pandemic restrictions, as he delivered an upbeat Budget speech. The Budget has promised business rate cuts and more money for schools, cut the price of beer, and delivered more money for low-paid workers.

Hot steel US steelmakers are forecasting a hot market through 2022 and are building new mills. Higher prices are forecast for construction, automakers and appliance manufacturers. 

Markets update Alphabet, Tesla and Microsoft led the Nasdaq higher today, as equities markets elsewhere stalled. In afternoon trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.7%, the Dow Jones dropped 0.2% and the S&P 500 rose 0.1%. In London, the FTSE 100 fell 0.3% as weaker crude prices hit oil companies, and the shine came off mining companies. European markets fell from near-record highs, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 down 0.4%, the Dax down 0.3% and the Cac 40 down 0.2%.