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BHP, JB Hi-Fi, Leighton, 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. All prices are from yesterday’s close unless otherwise stated.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index futures contract due in December fell 0.4 percent to 4,684 as of 6:59 a.m. in Sydney. The Bank of New York Australia ADR Index slipped 0.4 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.1 percent to 4,691.30.

Mining shares: Copper futures for December delivery fell 2 percent to close at $3.6795 at 1:23 p.m. in New York.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, rose 1 percent to A$40.95 in Sydney. Its American depositary receipts declined 0.4 percent in New York trading.

Sinochem Group, China’s largest fertilizer trader, may struggle to get state financial backing for a takeover of Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., making a deal unlikely, said two people with knowledge of the matter. Potash Corp. in August rejected BHP’s $40 billion offer as too low

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-biggest miner, advanced 0.7 percent to A$79.54 in Sydney.

Oil producers: Crude oil for November delivery fell 1.9 percent to settle at $81.67 a barrel in New York.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, lost 0.4 percent to A$44.64.

Gold producers: Gold futures for December delivery fell 0.8 percent to $1,336.40 an ounce at 11:35 a.m. in New York.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s largest gold producer, climbed 0.7 percent to A$42.32. St. Barbara Ltd. (SBM AU) advanced 1.2 percent to 43 Australian cents.

Alumina Ltd. (AWC AU): Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, reported third-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates and raised its 2010 global consumption forecast to a 13 percent increase on higher demand in China, Brazil and India. Alumina, a partner with Alcoa in the production of material used to make aluminum, gained 1.9 percent to A$1.91.

JB Hi-Fi Ltd. (JBH AU): The Australian electronics retailer was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” at Credit Suisse Group AG. The stock advanced 1.3 percent to A$21.32.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI AU): Hochtief AG’s Leighton unit has won new orders worth a total of 427 million euros ($595 million) via its group companies. The orders are for contract mining in Australia and construction of a sewage sludge incinerator in Hong Kong, the company said. Leighton’s shares rose 0.5 percent to A$35.05.

Prime Media Group (PRT AU): The Australian television broadcaster said Lachlan Murdoch has been named deputy chairman. Its shares were unchanged at 64 Australian cents.

Rivercity Motorway Group (RCY AU): The toll-road operator asked lenders for a standstill agreement on paying interest on a A$1.33 billion ($1.31 billion) loan, and may wind up if traffic flows don’t improve, the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column, without saying where it got the information. Rivercity shares plunged 13 percent to 1.3 Australian cents.

WorleyParsons Ltd. (WOR AU): Australia’s biggest engineering company was downgraded to “underperform” from “neutral” at Credit Suisse. The stock fell 2.3 percent to A$23.55.

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