BHP, BlueScope, Leighton, Sigma, Telstra, Woodside: Australia, N.Z. Stocks

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.5 percent to 4,438.50 at the 4:10 p.m. close in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index declined 0.3 percent to 3,023.53 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington.

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

Australia:

Mining shares: Copper futures for December delivery fell 1 percent to close at $3.2725 a pound at 1:16 p.m. on the Comex in New York on Aug. 13.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, declined 1 percent to A$40. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the third largest miner, dropped 0.9 percent to A$70.82.

AWB Ltd. (AWB AU) shares increased 30 percent to A$1.42. Agrium Inc. offered A$1.2 billion ($1.1 billion) in cash for Australia’s largest wheat exporter, topping a bid from GrainCorp Ltd. (GNC AU), whose shares advanced 4.2 percent to A$6.53.

BlueScope Steel Ltd. (BSL AU) rose 3 percent to A$2.39 after Australia’s largest steelmaker swung to profit in the second half and reinstated its dividend after sales increased.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI AU) surged 5.9 percent to A$30.60. Australia’s biggest construction company said full-year profit jumped 39 percent to a record.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU) rose 1.4 percent to A$35.20. Australia’s largest gold mining company, said second-half profit jumped more than threefold to the highest level since at least 2003 because of increased prices and production.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (SIP AU) gained 4 percent to 52 Australian cents. Australia’s biggest drug distributor by market share agreed to sell its pharmaceuticals division to Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd.

Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA AU) lost 3.3 percent to 29 Australian cents. Australia’s second-largest airline will scrap New Zealand domestic services as Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti overhauls operations to focus on more profitable routes.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second- largest oil and gas producer, rose 3.8 percent to A$43.10. Woodside said the Alaric-1 exploration well intersected about 185 meters gross gas over several zones.

New Zealand:

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay Ltd. (NZS NZ) jumped 8.6 percent to 63 Australian cents. Union Agriculture Group, a closely held Uruguayan landowner, plans to outbid Olam International Ltd. to gain control of the South American dairy farmer, Christchurch- based NZ Farming said in a statement.

Pyne Gould Corp. (PGC NZ) rose 4.9 percent to 43 New Zealand cents. The New Zealand investor that owns Marac Finance said full-year profit exceeded the company’s forecast, buoyed by increased motor-vehicle financing.

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

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