Australia, N.Z. Stocks: Newcrest, David Jones, Myer, News Corp.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.5 percent to 4,490.70 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index (NZSE50FG) fell 0.4 percent to 3,409.55 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington, even as a report showed the economy expanded at a faster pace, signaling the nation is recovering from its deadliest earthquake in eight decades.

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

Australia:

Gold producers: Gold futures surged 1.5 percent in New York yesterday as the dollar’s slump and the European debt crisis spurred demand for precious metals as alternative assets.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM) , Australia’s biggest gold producer, gained 2.2 percent to A$39.80. Rival St. Barbara Ltd. (SBM AU) climbed 4 percent to A$1.965.

Retailers: David Jones Ltd. (DJS) , Australia’s second- biggest department-store chain by revenue, tumbled 18 percent to A$3.20 after cutting profit and sales forecasts, citing an “unprecedented” decline in trading conditions for the country’s retail industry.

Myer Holdings Ltd. (MYR) , the largest, slumped 6.4 percent to A$2.48, even as it reconfirmed its guidance for the 2011 financial year. Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. (HVN AU), the nation’s largest furniture and electrical retailer, fell 4.6 percent to A$2.30.

News Corp. (NWSA) gained 3.1 percent to A$15.20. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWS) withdrew its offer for British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc following allegations one of its publications, U.K. tabloid News of the World, which was closed down this week, hacked into cell phones to get information.

New Zealand:

Vector Ltd. (VCT) , New Zealand’s largest electricity distributor climbed 1.2 percent to N$2.54 and Property for Industry Ltd. (PFI) , a New Zealand investor in warehouses and factory buildings, advanced 1.7 percent to NZ$1.23.

New Zealand’s economy expanded in the first quarter more than twice as much as the central bank forecast. Gross domestic product rose 0.8 percent in the three months ended March 31 from the previous quarter, when it increased a revised 0.5 percent, Statistics New Zealand said in a report today.

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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