Australia, N.Z. Equities: BHP, Rio, Qantas, Coalspur, AWE

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 (AS51) index and New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 (NZSE50FG) made their biggest first-quarter advances since 2006. The Australian gauge rose 0.1 percent to 4,335.20 at the close in Sydney. That capped a 6.9 percent increase over the first quarter, its best result for the period since a 7.7 percent rise in 2006.

In Wellington the NZX gained 0.4 percent to 3,509.55, a 7.2 percent rise that was the best since a 9.9 percent increase in the first quarter of 2006.

The consumer staples sub-index was the best performer on the Australian benchmark, climbing 1.1 percent. Woolworths Ltd. (WOW) , Australia’s largest retailer, drove the increase in the gauge, rising 1.3 percent to A$25.98.

Mining shares: The materials sub-index was the second-best performing sector, rising 0.7 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) , the world’s largest miner, climbed 1.1 percent, the most since March 19, to A$34.61. Rio Tinto Ltd. (RIO) rose 1.6 percent to A$65.40.

Coalspur Mines Ltd. (CPL) had the biggest gain in Sydney, rising 6.5 percent to A$1.65. The company yesterday announced that it had increased capacity allocation at a coal port on Canada’s west coast.

Mirabela Nickel Ltd. (MBN) , which is developing a mining project in Brazil, continued its seven-day losing streak and was the worst performer in Sydney, down 8.1 percent at 56 Australian cents and capping a 72 percent fall over the past 12 months.

Industrial stocks were the third-best performers, with the sub-index up 0.5 percent.

Leighton Holdings (LEI) Ltd, Australia’s biggest builder, fell for a second day running after reporting that full-year earnings would be below previous forecasts because of cost overruns on two projects. The stock sank 3.8 percent to A$21.32 at the close.

Macmahon Holdings (MAH) Ltd, which competes with Leighton in the mining construction sector, was the second-best performer, rising 6.2 percent to 86 Australian cents after winning a contract to build part of a uranium mine in northern Australia.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN) , the country’s leading carrier, fell 1.7 percent to A$1.785 after announcing capacity growth will slow and raising fuel surcharges.

Aurora Oil & Gas Ltd. (AUT) fell 2.6 percent to A$3.78 after Credit Suisse Group AG cut its rating on the stock to “neutral.”

AWE Ltd. (AWE) rose 4.5 percent to A$1.995 after announcing it had received A$80 million in cash for selling its stake in a gas project.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at dfickling@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Murray at brmurray@bloomberg.net; Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.