BHP, Rio, Sigma, Boral, ANZ, Qantas, Sigma, Sonic, Woodside: Stock Preview

The following is a list of companies whose shares may rise or fall in Australia. This preview includes news announced after markets closed. All prices are from yesterday’s close unless otherwise stated.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index futures contract due in Sept. rose 1.8 percent to 4,481 at 6:59 a.m. in Sydney. The Bank of New York Australia ADR Index rose 0.8 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 1.6 percent to 4486.1.

Mining shares: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will face a leadership challenge from deputy Julia Gillard today after a proposed tax on the mining industry caused his opinion poll ratings to plunge. BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU) and Rio Tinto Group both pared losses in London trading after the ballot, to be held at 9 a.m. in Canberra, was announced.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission has started a review of a plan by BHP and Rio Tinto to merge Australian iron-ore mining operations, Nikkei English News said, citing the commission’s Secretary-General Takahide Matsuyama.

BHP, the world’s largest mining company, lost 1.3 percent to A$39.14 in Sydney yesterday. Its American depositary receipts gained 2.1 percent in New York trading.

Rio, the world’s third-biggest mining company, lost 2.2 percent to A$70.54 in Sydney.

Oil companies: Crude oil fell for a second day after U.S. government reports showed an unexpected gain in supplies and a decline in purchases of new homes. Crude oil for August delivery declined 1.9 percent to settle at $76.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second- largest oil and gas producer, dropped 1.4 percent to A$44.65, and rival Santos Ltd. (STO AU) fell 3 percent to A$12.78.

Gold producers: Gold futures fell to a one-week low on speculation the dollar’s rally will erode demand for the precious metal as an alternative asset. Gold futures for delivery in August dropped 0.5 percent to $1,234.80 on the Comex after earlier touching the lowest level for a most-active contract since June 15.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, climbed 0.8 percent to A$35.38. Lihir Gold Ltd. (LGL AU) gained 0.5 percent to A$4.33.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (SIP AU): Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. of South Africa may alter or scrap its offer for Sigma amid a potential class action lawsuit against the Australian company, the Australian Financial Review reported. Aspen, which is conducting due diligence on the drugmaker, is “uneasy” about bearing the risk of the lawsuit before formalizing its A$707 million bid, the newspaper reported without saying where it got the information. Sigma shares fell 3.1 percent to 46.5 Australian cents.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU): Australia’s biggest airline will focus on cost cutting to make the carrier the nation’s most popular airline brand by the end of the year, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing new Chief Financial Officer Gareth Evans. Qantas is also reducing the number of cheap flights within Australia to encourage travelers to buy more expensive tickets, the newspaper said. Shares declined 2.1 percent to A$2.35.

Sonic Healthcare Ltd. (SHL AU): The provider of medical tests was raised to “hold” from “sell” at Deutsche Bank AG by equity analyst David Low. The stock dropped 2.6 percent to A$10.57.

Boral Ltd. (BLD AU): Australia’s largest seller of building materials was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at UBS AG by equity analyst David Leitch. Shares fell 3.7 percent to A$4.96.

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ AU): The Australian bank expanding in Asia was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Deutsche Bank by equity analyst James Freeman. Shares dropped 1.5 percent to A$22.88.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McDonald in Sydney at

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