Alinta, Aristocrat, BHP, Challenger, Fosters, Rio: Australia, N.Z. Stocks

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.1 percent to 4,381.30 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent to 3,024.64 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: A measure of primary metals traded in London retreated for a fourth day yesterday, losing 0.3 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, declined 1.5 percent to A$37.54. Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the fertilizer producer seeking to fend off a hostile takeover bid from BHP, said it began talks with other companies on alternatives to the $39 billion offer.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-largest miner, lost 1.6 percent to A$71.07 in Sydney.

AMP Ltd. (AMP AU) gained 0.4 percent to A$4.92. Australia’s second-largest asset manager was raised to “neutral” from “underweight” at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Aristocrat Leisure Ltd. (ALL AU) increased 2.6 percent to A$3.52. The world’s second-largest maker of slot machines turned to a first-half profit as write-downs from the year earlier weren’t repeated.

AWE Ltd. (AWE AU) plunged 8.2 percent to A$1.505 after the oil and gas explorer reported a full-year loss.

Caltex Australia Ltd. (CTX AU) rose 6 percent to A$11.11. The nation’s biggest oil refiner was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Macquarie Group Ltd.

Challenger Financial Services Group Ltd. (CGF AU) climbed 2.4 percent to A$3.90. The Australian investment manager had its rating raised to “buy” from “neutral” by analysts at UBS AG.

CuDeco Ltd. (CDU AU), seeking to build the Rocklands project in Australia, jumped 30 percent to A$2.22, the biggest gain since July 2006. The mineral exploration company said its engineer, Sinosteel Corp., had expressed confidence the copper- cobalt project would succeed.

Flight Centre Ltd. (FLT AU) rose 3 percent to A$19. Australia’s largest travel agency reported full-year net income of A$139.9 million ($124.3 million) and said it sees further profit growth in fiscal 2011.

Foster’s Group Ltd. (FGL AU) dropped 4.3 percent to A$5.99. Australia’s biggest beer and wine maker posted a loss after a A$1.2 billion writedown on its wine division.

GPT Group (GPT AU) climbed 3.8 percent to A$3.02. Australia’s third-biggest property trust by market capitalization returned to a profit in the first half after seeing growth in its Australian business and selling off overseas assets.

Sphere Minerals Ltd. (SPH AU) jumped 57 percent to A$2.44, its biggest gain since December 2002. Xstrata Plc, the largest exporter of coal used for power, agreed to pay A$428 million in cash for Australian iron-ore developer Sphere.

Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC AU) fell 2.9 percent to A$21.43. The Australian lender had its stock rating downgraded to “neutral” from “outperform” by analysts at Macquarie Group Ltd.

New Zealand:

NZ Farming Systems Uruguay Ltd. (NZS NZ) soared 11 percent to 70 New Zealand cents. Olam International Ltd., a Singapore- based supplier of agricultural commodities, said it increased its offer for NZ Farming shares to 70 New Zealand cents each from 55 New Zealand cents.

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

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