Australia, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, Macarthur, BlueScope, Qantas, News

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.6 percent to 4,582.30 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney, the biggest drop in almost a month. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index (NZSE50FG) slipped 0.6 percent to 3,434.14 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.

Carbon-tax-linked stocks: Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday announced the nation’s first tax on greenhouse gas emissions, which is expected to hurt the earnings of some mining companies and airlines. Macarthur Coal Ltd. (MCC) slumped 2.8 percent to A$11.08 after Gillard unveiled the plan to charge polluters A$23 ($24.74) per metric ton of carbon emissions.

After the market closed, Macarthur said it has received an indicative, nonbinding proposal from Peabody Energy Corp. and ArcelorMittal for an off-market takeover bid to acquire a controlling interest. Rival Whitehaven Coal Ltd. (WHC) , whose shares earlier fell as much as 5.8 percent, closed up 0.3 percent at A$6.10.

Alumina Ltd. (AWC) fell 3.2 percent to A$2.15 after the Australian Aluminium Council said the tax would put local producers at a disadvantage to overseas rivals.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) , Australia’s biggest airline, dropped 3.3 percent to A$1.935 and Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA) , the nation’s No. 2 carrier, retreated 2.9 percent to 34 Australian cents.

BlueScope Steel Ltd. (BSL) fell 6.7 percent to A$1.26 and OneSteel Ltd. (OST) dropped 4.9 percent to A$1.93 even after Australia’s biggest steelmakers welcomed A$300 million of government assistance for their industry. Infigen Energy (IFN) , an Australian developer of renewable-energy projects, gained 5.4 percent to 39 Australian cents after the announcement of the new carbon policy, which seeks to encourage investment in that industry.

Commodity shares: The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six metals including copper and aluminum dropped 1.1 percent on July 8 following the worst monthly U.S. jobs report since September, while crude oil futures slumped 2.5 percent in New York.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) , the world’s No. 1 mining company, fell 1.5 percent to A$44.30. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, slid 1.4 percent to A$83.20. Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL) , Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, declined 2.6 percent to A$40.14.

U.S.-linked stocks: Labor Department data showed U.S. employers added 18,000 workers in June, the fewest in nine months and less than the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The median forecast was for growth of 105,000. The jobless rate rose to a 2011 high of 9.2 percent. James Hardie Industries SE (JHX) , the largest seller of home siding in the U.S., sank 4.6 percent to A$5.80. Billabong International Ltd. (BBG) , the world’s biggest surfwear maker that gets almost half its sales from the Americas, slid 1.7 percent to A$6.26.

Aquila Resources Ltd. (AQA) lost 5.6 percent to A$6.96. The minerals explorer plans to sell its Washpool coal-mining asset in Queensland state as it seeks funds for an iron-ore project in Western Australia, said a person with knowledge of the matter.

Energy World Corp. (EWC AU) jumped 8.7 percent to 56.5 Australian cents after the company, a gas and electricity developer, said new shares to be purchased by Orchid Fund Pte Ltd. will help shore up funding for existing projects, including liquefied natural gas development in Indonesia.

News Corp. (NWSA) fell 5.1 percent to A$15.92 as a phone- hacking scandal around one of its tabloids in the U.K. escalated, threatening the company’s 7.8 billion-pound ($12.5 billion) bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shani Raja in Sydney at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at

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