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IAG, James Hardie, Newcrest, Wesfarmers: Australian, New Zealand Equities

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.3 percent to 4,497.40 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.4 percent to 3,008.43 at 5 p.m. in Wellington.

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

Australia:

Gold producers: Gold fell for the second straight session in New York yesterday as the euro climbed against the dollar, eroding demand for the metal as a haven amid waning European- debt concerns.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s largest gold producer, lost 0.9 percent to A$33.06. Rival St. Barbara Ltd. (SBM AU) slumped 7.4 percent to 31.5 Australian cents.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd. (IAG AU), the Sydney-based insurer formed in 1925, dropped 4.3 percent to A$3.35 after saying fiscal-year profit halved after rising claims at its U.K. unit.

James Hardie Industries SE (JHX AU), the biggest seller of home siding in the U.S., rose 2.9 percent to A$6.73. Sales of U.S. new homes in June rose more than forecast, following an unprecedented collapse the prior month.

Wesfarmers Ltd. (WES AU), Australia’s second-largest retailer, climbed 0.9 percent to A$30.36 after having its stock rating raised to “neutral” from “underperform” by analysts led by Grant Saligari at Credit Suisse Group AG.

New Zealand:

Contact Energy Ltd. (CEN NZ), New Zealand’s biggest publicly traded power company, fell 1.6 percent to NZ$5.60. The company said June power prices fell 34 percent from a year earlier amid high storage levels and soft demand.

To contact the reporters for this story: Lisa Pham in Sydney at lpham14@bloomberg.net. Shani Raja in Sydney at sraja4@bloomberg.net.

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