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APA, BHP, Newcrest, Suncorp, Woodside: Australian Stock Preview

The following is a list of companies whose shares may rise or fall in Australia. This preview includes news announced after markets closed yesterday. All prices are from yesterday’s close unless otherwise stated.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index futures contract due in September rose 0.4 percent to 4,316 as of 6:59 a.m. in Sydney. The Bank of New York Australia ADR Index slipped 0.1 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 1.4 percent to 4,320.10.

Mining shares: Copper fell to a four-week low in New York on unexpectedly weak reports on U.S. durable goods and housing.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, declined 0.3 percent to A$37.44 in Sydney. Its American depositary receipts rose 0.1 percent in New York trading.

BHP reported its second-half profit doubled and it reduced its debts by 41 percent, boosting its finances before a possible battle for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-largest miner, lost 2.3 percent to A$69.45 in Sydney. Rio is unlikely to make a takeover bid for Potash, UBS AG said after meeting with Rio Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese.

Oil companies: Crude oil for October delivery rose 1.2 percent to settle at $72.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, dropped 2 percent to A$42.27.

Gold producers: Gold advanced to a seven-week high in New York as concern that the economic recovery is stalling spurred demand.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest producer of the precious metal, lost 0.7 percent to A$35.49.

APA Group (APA AU): The company, whose pipelines carry more than half Australia’s natural gas, was downgraded to “neutral” from “overweight” at JPMorgan Chase & Co. It was raised to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Citigroup Inc. APA’s shares were unchanged at A$3.70.

OZ Minerals Ltd. (OZL AU): The explorer was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Deutsche Bank AG. OZ Minerals shares slipped 2.4 percent to A$1.20.

Pacific Brands Ltd. (PBG AU): Australia’s largest maker of underwear was downgraded to “neutral” from “overweight” at JPMorgan Chase & Co. The stock jumped 12 percent to 99.5 Australian cents.

Roc Oil Co Ltd. (ROC AU): The energy explorer with assets in Australia was raised to “buy” from “neutral” at UBS AG. The shares dropped 6.7 percent to 35 Australian cents.

Suncorp-Metway Ltd. (SUN AU): The Australian insurer and lender was raised to “buy” from “hold” at Goldman Sachs & Partners Australia Pty. The shares rose 2.4 percent to A$7.97.

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