Australia, N.Z. Stocks: Austar, BHP, Mirvac, Seek, Sonic, UGL

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.9 percent to 4,856.70 at the 4:10 p.m. close in Sydney.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.7 percent to 3,358.71 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington as Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island was hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake.

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

Australia:

Amcor Ltd. (AMC AU) rose 2 percent to A$6.99. Australia’s biggest packaging company had its stock rating raised to “outperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG.

Austar United Communications Ltd. (AUN AU) gained 2.3 percent to A$1.115 after the pay-television company reported full year net income.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU) rose 1.6 percent to A$46.58. The world’s biggest mining company agreed to buy Chesapeake Energy Corp. assets in central Arkansas for $4.75 billion in cash, entering the U.S. shale gas business for the first time. The company also announced an off-market A$5 billion share buyback.

Fantastic Holdings Ltd. (FAN AU) surged 3 percent to A$2.38. The furniture retailer and manufacturer had its stock rating raised to “overweight” from “neutral” by analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Mirvac Group (MGR AU) added 2 percent to A$1.29 after the Australian real estate investment trust reported first-half results.

OneSteel Ltd. (OST AU) dropped 4.7 percent to A$2.84. The second-largest Australian producer of the alloy said first-half profit was little changed as a doubling of iron ore earnings offset losses in its manufacturing and recycling units.

Riversdale Mining Ltd. (RIV AU) declined 1.7 percent to A$15.45. Tata Steel Ltd., India’s biggest producer of the alloy, would like to retain its stake in Australia’s Riversdale, Tata Managing Director H.M. Nerurkar said in New Delhi yesterday.

Seek Ltd. (SEK AU) slumped 12 percent to A$6.24 after the internet job-advertisement site reported first-half results.

Sonic Healthcare Ltd. (SHL AU) retreated 3.8 percent to A$11.37 after Australia’s biggest provider of medical tests reported a 13 percent drop in first-half profit and said it expects full-year profit growth to be at the lower end of the company’s forecast.

UGL Ltd. (UGL AU) rose 1.7 percent to A$15.59. The company with businesses ranging from engineering to property services had its stock rating raised to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

New Zealand:

Building companies: Fletcher Building Ltd. (FBU NZ), New Zealand’s largest seller of construction materials, climbed 2.2 percent to NZ$8.48, erasing earlier losses after an earthquake occurred at 12.51 p.m., shaking buildings and damaging parts of a cathedral near the city center.

Contact Energy Ltd. (CEN NZ) slipped 1.3 percent to NZ$6.11. New Zealand’s biggest publicly traded energy company plans a rights offer to help fund a NZ$623 million ($475 million) geothermal generation project on the central North Island.

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net.

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