Abacus, BHP, Eastern Star, Intoll, Rio, Woodside: Australian 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 on Aug. 27. All prices are from that day’s close unless otherwise stated.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index futures contract due in September climbed 0.9 percent to 4,389 as of 6:59 a.m. in Sydney. The Bank of New York Australia ADR Index gained 2.7 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.3 percent to 4,370.10.

Mining shares: Copper futures for December delivery rose 1.8 percent to close at $3.3845 a pound at 1:21 p.m. in New York.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, declined 0.2 percent to A$37.30 in Sydney. Its American depositary receipts rose 2.4 percent in New York trading.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-largest miner, dropped 0.4 percent to A$69.30 in Sydney.

BHP, seeking to acquire Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. for $40 billion, said the offer is fair and that it would abandon pursuit of the company if it’s not in the best interests of shareholders.

Oil companies: Crude oil for October delivery rose 2.5 percent to settle at $75.17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second- largest oil and gas producer, declined 0.9 percent to A$42.10. Woodside faces pressure to meet a February deadline to open its A$13 billion ($11.7 billion) Pluto gas project on concern some parts of the plant may not withstand a cyclone, the Australian Financial Review reported.

Abacus Property Group (ABP AU): The Australian property investment group was raised to “overweight’ from “neutral” by analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Abacus shares climbed 1.2 percent to 41 Australian cents.

Aquila Resources Ltd. (AQA AU): The Australian mining company plans to arrange financing for the A$5.8 billion West Pilbara iron-ore project by the middle of 2011 in order to start construction in the third quarter, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an interview with Chairman Tony Poli. Aquila shares rose 2.9 percent to A$8.25.

Asciano Group (AIO AU): Australia’s largest port and rail operator is bidding for a rail contract of between five and 10 years in Western Australia to transport A$100 million of grain annually, the Australian newspaper reported. Asciano shares dropped 1.8 percent to A$1.63.

Eastern Star Gas Ltd. (ESG AU) and Santos Ltd. (STO AU): Santos isn’t considering a bid for Eastern Star, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an interview with Santos Chief Executive Officer David Knox. Coal-seam gas explorer Eastern Star dipped 1.2 percent to 80 Australian cents. Australian energy company Santos gained 1.6 percent to A$14.30.

Intoll Group (ITO AU): The Australian toll-road operator was downgraded to “neutral” from “overweight” by analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co, and cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at UBS AG. Intoll shares rose 1.4 percent to A$1.475.

To contact the reporter for this story: Lisa Pham in Sydney at lpham14@bloomberg.net.

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