Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Ausenco, BHP, Fairfax, GrainCorp, Newcrest, Rio

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 1.7 percent to 4,379.20 at the close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.8 percent to 3,034.83 in Wellington.

The following were among the most active shares in the market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.

Mining shares: Copper and zinc climbed for a second day and aluminum advanced as financial markets stabilized and the dollar fell on signs that the global economic recovery is gaining momentum.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, rose 4.3 percent to A$38.85. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU) gained 4.8 percent to A$67.03. BHP and Rio also rose after the Australian newspaper said the government may change the rate at which a proposed mining profit tax takes effect.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second- largest oil and gas producer, climbed 1.3 percent to A$42.63 after crude oil rose for a second day in New York.

Gold producers: Gold traded near a one-week high after rising for a third day yesterday as investors bought the metal on concern Europe’s debt crisis will slow growth and weigh on the region’s currency.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s largest gold producer, rose 1.7 percent to A$32.39. Avoca Resources Ltd. (AVO AU) jumped 5.3 percent to A$2.19 after being raised to “buy” from “hold” at Deutsche Bank AG.

Ausenco Ltd. (AAX AU), an Australian engineering company, plunged 18 percent to A$2.47. The company forecast a first-half loss and full-year profit below analysts’ expectations.

Fairfax Media Ltd. (FXJ AU) gained 3.2 percent to A$1.445. The media company was raised to “hold” from “sell” at Deutsche Bank.

GrainCorp Ltd. (GNC AU) surged 8.1 percent to A$5.86. Eastern Australia’s largest grain handler reported a 66 percent increase in first-half profit after the acquisition of a malt business. GrainCorp’s search for a new chief executive officer was “well advanced,” Don Taylor, chairman of the company, said at a briefing in Sydney.

Tower Australia Group Ltd. (TAL AU) slumped 9.7 percent to A$2.15 after saying fiscal first-half claims were higher than expected and that it will raise funds in a rights offer.

To contact the reporters for this story: Shani Raja in Sydney at

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