Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.9 percent to 4,495.40 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney, completing the biggest two-day drop since June 2010. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index (NZSE50FG) slipped 0.1 percent to 3,430.38 in Wellington.
The following were among the most active shares in the market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.
Mining companies: Copper futures for September delivery fell 1 percent to $4.368 in New York yesterday on concern Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis may spread to Italy, curbing economic growth and metal demand.
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) , the world’s No. 1 mining company, slipped 1.9 percent to A$43.46. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, lost 2.1 percent to A$81.43.
Oil stocks: Crude for August delivery fell 1.1 percent in New York yesterday and as much as 0.9 percent today.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL) , Australia’s second- biggest oil and gas producer, declined 0.9 percent to A$39.78. Santos Ltd. (STO) , Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, retreated 1.9 percent to A$13.13.
Property stocks: Deutsche Bank AG cut the investment rating of property-investment companies. The bank downgraded Dexus Property Group (DXS) , Commonwealth Property Office Fund (CPA) and GPT Group (GPT) to “sell” from “hold.”
Dexus shares slid 2.3 percent to 86.5 Australian cents, Commonwealth Property lost 0.6 percent to 90.5 Australian cents, and GPT Group slipped 0.3 percent to A$3.08.
Austar United Communications Ltd. (AUN) , controlled by billionaire John Malone, climbed 2.3 percent to A$1.32 after reaching a final agreement to be bought by Foxtel for A$1.9 billion ($2 billion).
Beach Energy Ltd. (BPT) surged 5.3 percent to 99 Australian cents after the oil and gas explorer said the initial gas flow rate at its Holdfast-1 well in the Cooper Basin “looks to be very significant.”
Intrepid Mines Ltd. (IAU) gained 0.6 percent to A$1.62. The gold explorer that operates in Indonesia said drilling results showed “exceptional gold and copper assays” at the Tumpangpitu area of the Tujuh Bukit project.
Macarthur Coal Ltd. (MCC) jumped 37 percent to A$15.14. ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, and Peabody Energy Corp. said they approached Macarthur Coal with an offer that values the Australian coal producer at A$4.7 billion ($5 billion). Rival Gloucester Coal Ltd. (GCL) rose 3.9 percent to A$8.76 and Whitehaven Coal Ltd. (WHC) advanced 2.5 percent to A$6.25.
News Corp. (NWSA) dropped 4.6 percent to A$15.19. The stock had the biggest retreat in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, sliding 7.6 percent in New York yesterday after U.K. political leaders pressed Rupert Murdoch to drop his bid to take full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc, as the clamor over reports of phone hacking at the News of the World newspaper intensified.
Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) fell 4.9 percent to A$1.84. Australia’s No. 1 airline may cut routes and seek tie-ups with competitors as it works to reverse losses at its international business, according to Neil Hansford, chairman of Strategic Aviation Solutions, a Sydney-based industry consultant.
The airline may stop flying to South Africa and South America to focus on routes to London and Los Angeles and shift Hawaiian services to the Jetstar budget unit, he said.
Rival Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA AU) slumped 8.8 percent to 31 Australian cents.
OneSteel Ltd. (OST) retreated 1.6 percent to A$1.90. The Australian steel manufacturer refinanced its A$1.1 billion syndicated loan due to expire in August 2012 with a longer-term A$1.25 billion facility.
Telecom Corp. of New Zealand (TEL NZ) rose 2 percent to A$2.505 after the nation’s largest telephone company was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Deutsche Bank AG.
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