Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Alumina, Ansell, BHP, Newcrest, Qantas

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 2.6 percent to 4,282.90 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index (NZSE50FG) gained 1.1 percent to 3,252.63 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.

Mining companies: Copper futures in New York rose for a third straight session today, climbing as much as 1.1 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) , the world’s No. 1 mining company, advanced 4.3 percent to A$39.85. BHP’s biggest shareholder, BlackRock Inc., said the company should start another share buyback because failing to do so would send a “poor signal” to the market. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, gained 4.2 percent to A$74.52.

Gold producers: Gold futures for December delivery fell 0.5 percent on the Comex in New York on Aug. 12.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM) , Australia’s biggest gold producer, dropped 0.8 percent to A$40.40, even after saying full-year profit rose 63 percent to a record, allowing the company to pay its first special dividend. Rival Alacer Gold Corp. (AQG AU) fell 2.8 percent to A$9.19.

Alumina Ltd. (AWC) jumped 8.2 percent to A$1.97. Alumina, a partner in the world’s biggest producer of the material used to make aluminum, was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” at Macquarie Group Ltd.

Ansell Ltd. (ANN) , the world’s No. 1 maker of surgical gloves, rose 4.1 percent to A$13.68 after full-year net income beat analyst forecasts.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI) , Australia’s biggest builder, surged 8.3 percent to A$21.49 after it reiterated a return to annual profit after reporting a loss for the year to June 30 today.

Lynas Corp. (LYC AU) gained 3 percent to A$2.04. Molycorp Inc., owner of the largest rare-earth deposit outside China, raised its full-year production forecast as it posted second- quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

Macmahon Holdings Ltd. (MAH) surged 12 percent to 56.5 Australian cents after the company said it’s in talks with Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC over a contract for mining operations at the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) rose 1 percent to A$1.53. Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd., the budget unit of Qantas, and Japan Airlines Co. may within days unveil a deal to create a low-cost Japanese carrier, the Australian newspaper said, citing a report in the Nikkei Business Daily.

Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA) climbed 6.5 percent to 24.5 Australian cents after Australia’s second-biggest airline said in a press release that it started its Capital Connect daily shuttle service between Sydney and Canberra.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net

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