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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, James Hardie, Leighton, Northern Star, Sigma

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.7 percent to 4,527.30 as of the close in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.7 percent to 3,045.72 in Wellington after the nation’s consumer confidence rebounded.

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

Mining shares: Copper prices slipped, halting a six-session rally, after a U.S. government report signaled weaker demand from the construction industry. Copper futures for September delivery fell 0.3 percent to $3.0135 a pound on the Comex in New York, the first decline since June 7.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, dropped 1.1 percent to A$38.82. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-biggest mining company, dipped 1.8 percent to A$70.07.

Amadeus Energy Ltd. (AMU AU) surged 32 percent to 24.5 Australian cents. The Perth-based oil explorer said it has received unsolicited approaches from U.S.-based companies expressing an interest in acquiring the company’s assets. The company’s board has requested Macquarie Capital Advisers to review all of the options available to Amadeus.

James Hardie Industries (JHX AU), the biggest seller of home siding in the U.S., declined 3.8 percent to A$6.76. Housing starts in the U.S. fell 10 percent in May, the biggest drop since March 2009, a government report showed yesterday.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI AU), Australia’s biggest construction company, climbed 2.2 percent to A$33.01. The company said it won A$1.5 billion ($1.3 million) in contracts, including a A$1.2 billion deal to expand the coal mines of PT Mahakam Sumber Jaya in Indonesia and a A$405 million contract from BHP Billiton Ltd.

Northern Star Resources Ltd. (NST AU), the nickel and copper explorer, advanced 4.2 percent to 7.5 Australian cents. The company said it obtained A$15 million in financing to buy a gold mine.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (SIP AU), the owner of the Guardian drugstore brand, jumped 9.1 percent to 54 Australian cents. The stock was raised to “buy” from “sell” by Citigroup Inc., which cited the appointment of Mark Hooper as chief executive officer and a takeover offer from Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Burgos in Singapore at jburgos4@bloomberg.net Akiko Ikeda in Tokyo at iakiko@bloomberg.net.

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