Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Aston, Energy Resources, Sky City

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.8 percent to 4,321.3 at the close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.6 percent to 3,301.22 in Wellington.

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

Aston Resources Ltd. (AZT) rose 4.2 percent to A$9.49 and Whitehaven Coal Ltd. (WHC) gained 1.2 percent to A$5.71 after the Australian miners confirmed merger talks. The discussions are confidential with no guarantee a transaction will take place, they said in filings today.

Centro Retail Australia (CRF AU) closed at A$1.74 on its debut on the Australian Securities Exchange after Centro Properties Group shareholders and lenders agreed to a plan to wipe out A$2.9 billion ($3.1 billion) of debt and allow the creation of the new entity.

Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. (EGP AU) rose 1.3 percent to A$3.83 after the owner of four Australian casinos had its rating raised to “hold” from “sell” by Adam Alexander, an analyst at Goldman Sachs Australia Pty.

Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA) rose 9.8 percent to A$1.57. The uranium miner was the biggest gainer on the benchmark index after Australia’s ruling Labor Party ended a ban on exports of the nuclear fuel to India. Shares of other producers and explorers gained, with Deep Yellow Ltd. (DYL) rising 10 percent to 16 cents and Paladin Energy Ltd. (PDN) advancing 2.4 percent to A$1.71.

James Hardie Industries SE (JHX) rose 0.4 percent to A$6.98 after the building products company affirmed its full- year earnings forecast.

Metcash Ltd. (MTS) rose 0.2 percent to A$4.25 after Australia’s antitrust regulator said it won’t appeal the grocery wholesaler’s acquisition of Franklins supermarkets.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO) , the world’s third-largest miner, advanced 1 percent to A$67. The company faces further fluctuations in metal prices as markets weigh economic prospects for next year on concern Europe’s debt crisis will derail a global recovery, Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese said yesterday on Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

Sky City Entertainment Group Ltd. (SKC) rose 0.3 percent to NZ$3.40 after the New Zealand casino owner agreed a NZ$185 million ($144 million) seven-year banking facility to repay U.S. private placement debt of around NZ$250 million.

Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. (TAH) declined 0.7 percent to A$2.80 after Australia’s biggest owner of betting shops was cut to “sell” from “hold” at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which said earnings may stall in the next two years on higher license costs and a “lack of positive catalysts.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Fenner in Melbourne at rfenner@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net

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