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Australia, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, Navitas, Newcrest, News Corp., Rio

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 2.3 percent to 4,332.80 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney.

The gauge closed at the lowest level since Aug. 25, 2010, after a report yesterday showed an unexpected decline in U.S. consumer spending, increasing concern growth in the world’s largest economy is faltering.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index (NZSE50FG) dropped 0.8 percent to 3,369.82 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.

U.S.-linked shares: James Hardie Industries SE (JHX) , an Australian building-materials company that gets almost 70 percent of its sales from the U.S., slipped 4.6 percent to A$5.43. Brambles Ltd. (BXB) , which gets 45 percent of its revenue from the Americas, plunged 5.2 percent to A$6.39.

Commodity stocks: Copper futures for September delivery declined for the second straight day yesterday, while crude oil for September delivery declined for a fourth consecutive day in New York today.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) , the world’s No. 1 mining company, fell 3.4 percent to A$40.15. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, slid 3.1 percent to A$77.60.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL) , Australia’s second- biggest oil and gas producer, dropped 2.7 percent to A$37.22. Santos Ltd. (STO) , Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, declined 1.9 percent to A$12.65.

Gold producers: Gold futures for December delivery climbed 1.4 percent on the Comex in New York yesterday and as much as 1.3 percent today.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM) , Australia’s biggest gold producer, added 1.8 percent to A$40.75. Rival St. Barbara Ltd. (SBM AU) gained 0.8 percent to A$1.88.

Navitas Ltd. (NVT) declined 6.1 percent to A$3.52. The educational-services provider was cut to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Citigroup Inc., who said the company faces “too many headwinds” to be able to outperform in the “near term.”

News Corp. (NWS) dropped 3.1 percent A$14.57. London police arrested former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner as part of the probe into phone hacking and bribery at News Corp. (NWSA)’s now-defunct Sunday tabloid, two people familiar with the case said.

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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