Aquarius Platinum, ERA, Hastings, Macquarie: Australia, New Zealand Stocks

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.7 percent to 4,493.50 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney, trimming its gain for the week to 0.8 percent. The gauge has climbed 4.5 percent in July, its first positive month since March.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent to 3,034.62 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington, securing a 1.3 percent advance this week. The measure added 2.1 percent this month.

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

APA Group (APA AU) gained 0.5 percent to A$3.71. The company, whose pipelines carry more than half Australia’s natural gas, had its rating raised to “overweight” from “equal-weight” by Morgan Stanley analysts.

Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP AU) slumped 6.1 percent to A$4.74. The fourth-largest producer of the metal said it may shut the Blue Ridge mine it bought last year in South Africa for as long as seven months to resolve safety and efficiency problems.

AWB Ltd. (AWB AU) rose 3.7 percent to 99 Australian cents after GrainCorp Ltd. (GNC AU) agreed to buy the company, Australia’s largest wheat exporter. GrainCorp, the largest grain hander on Australia’s east coast, plunged 6.2 percent to A$5.65.

Caltex Australia Ltd. (CTX AU) fell 1.9 percent to A$10.27. The nation’s biggest oil refiner had its rating cut to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts led by Andrew Williams at Credit Suisse Group AG.

Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd. (CCL AU) declined 1.4 percent to A$11.47. Australia’s largest soft-drink maker had its rating cut to “equal-weight” from “overweight” by Morgan Stanley analysts.

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA AU) fell 3.9 percent to A$13.78 after reporting first-half net income of A$22.7 million ($20.5 million). The company cut its 2010 uranium oxide-output guidance to between 4,300 tons and 4,700 tons from expectations it would be “broadly similar” to the 5,240 tons produced in 2009.

Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund (HDF AU) advanced 3.8 percent to A$1.37. Canada’s ATCO Group may have approached Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund to buy its Epic Energy pipeline, and an unnamed Canadian fund may be interested in Hastings’s stake in South East Water in the U.K., the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column, without citing anyone.

Hastings Diversified today also said it’s in the process of implementing its strategic review and has had contact with a number of parties.

iiNet Ltd. (IIN AU) surged 4.9 percent to A$2.78 after Telecom Corp. of New Zealand (TEL NZ) agreed to sell the consumer arm of its AAPT unit to iiNet for A$60 million, according to a regulatory filing. Telecom Corp., New Zealand’s biggest telephone company, was unchanged at NZ$1.99.

Macquarie Group Ltd. (MQG AU) dropped 3.1 percent to A$37.20. Australia’s biggest investment bank said its advisory, securities, fixed income and commodities businesses are set to report lower earnings as global markets falter and deals dwindle.

Mitchell Communications Group Ltd. (MCU AU) surged 19 percent to A$1.235. Aegis Group Plc, the world’s largest independent buyer of advertising space, agreed to buy Australian competitor Mitchell Communications for A$363 million.

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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