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Australia, N.Z. Stocks: Alesco, David Jones, NAB, Newcrest, Rio

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.5 percent to 4,551.90 at the close in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index was little changed at 3,047.50 in Wellington.

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

Alesco Corp. (ALS AU) dropped 2.8 percent to A$2.77. The maker of building materials and home products said it expects a fiscal 2010 loss of about A$126 million ($109 million) after writedowns worth about A$140 million.

David Jones Ltd. (DJS AU), Australia’s second-largest department store chain, slipped 0.4 percent to A$4.49. The company said Chief Executive Officer Mark McInnes resigned after behaving in an “unbecoming” manner to a female staff member.

Infigen Energy Ltd. (IFN AU), the Australian wind power producer, dropped 1.2 percent to 86 Australian cents. The stock was cut to “underperform” from “neutral” at Credit Suisse Group AG, which cited a lack of “positive catalysts” for the share price. Credit Suisse maintained its share-price forecast at 90 Australian cents.

National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB AU) rose 1.3 percent to A$25.12. The nation’s largest corporate lender may sell an adviser network to IOOF Holdings Ltd. to help win regulatory approval for its bid for Axa Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd., the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column, without saying where it got the information.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, climbed 1.7 percent to A$35.24. Gold approached its record high as demand escalated for an alternative investment to currencies amid a slump by the dollar and Europe’s mounting sovereign-debt crisis.

PanAust Ltd. (PNA AU), owner of the second-largest copper mine in Laos, increased 3 percent to 52 Australian cents. The company said it has discovered a continuous zone of high-grade gold skarn mineralization at the Tharkhek gold prospect, which is close to the Tharkhek copper-gold deposit near Phonsavan, Laos.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-biggest mining company, gained 1.1 percent to A$70.85. The stock was upgraded to “buy” from “hold” at Societe Generale.

Telstra Corp Ltd. (TLS AU), Australia’s largest phone company, rose 2.2 percent to A$3.23. The company sold A$150 million of 10-year bonds in its first domestic debt issue since 2006.

New Zealand stocks:

Air New Zealand Ltd. (AIR NZ) climbed 1.7 percent to S$1.17. The nation’s biggest airline said it carried 883,000 passengers in May, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier.

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