Abacus, Aquila, BHP, Centro, Kagara, Rio, Santos: Australian, N.Z. Stocks

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.9 percent to 4,452.70 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney, its biggest gain since July 23. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 1 percent to 3,036.81 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.

Commodity producers and financial shares: Commodity-related stocks and banks rose on improved prospects for U.S. economic growth. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke pledged on Aug. 27 to safeguard the economic recovery, while the Commerce Department said gross domestic product expanded at a faster pace than forecast in the second quarter.

Oil traded above $75 a barrel today and copper from New York to Shanghai climbed to the highest price in four months.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s biggest mining company, rose 1.5 percent to A$37.87. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-largest miner, gained 2.5 percent to A$71.01.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s No. 2 oil and gas producer, advanced 0.8 percent to A$42.45. Rival Santos Ltd. (STO AU) gained 0.9 percent to A$14.43. Kagara Ltd. (KZL AU), a metals producer, jumped 11 percent to 66 Australian cents.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA AU), the nation’s biggest lender by market value, increased 2.7 percent to A$50.55. National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB AU) gained 2.2 percent to A$23.55.

Asciano Group (AIO AU) gained 2.5 percent to A$1.67. 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.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG AU) rose 2.8 percent to A$4.71. Australia’s third-biggest producer of iron ore had its stock rating raised to “buy” from “hold” by analysts led by Neil Goodwill at Goldman Sachs & Partners Australia Pty.

Mirabela Nickel Ltd. (MBN AU) surged 5.7 percent to A$1.765. The Australian miner had its stock rating raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts led by Paul McTaggart at Credit Suisse Group AG.

Transfield Services Ltd. (TSE AU), an Australian company that provides maintenance services to mining and infrastructure companies, gained 3.8 percent to A$3.30. Transfield was raised to “outperform” from “market perform” by analysts at Linwar Securities.

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

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