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BHP, Qantas, Sphere, Rio, 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 slipped 0.5 percent to 4,783 as of 7:59 a.m. in Sydney. The Bank of New York Australia ADR Index declined 1.3 percent. The S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.5 percent to 4,778.40.

Mining shares: Copper rose for the third straight day in New York on demand from investors who bet the additional stimulus money pledged by the Federal Reserve will bolster the U.S. economy.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, fell 0.2 percent to A$45.16 in Sydney. Its American depositary receipts dropped 1.4 percent in New York trading.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-biggest miner, climbed 0.2 percent to A$87.40 in Sydney.

Rio and Sinosteel Corp. of China have finalized the renegotiation of an iron-ore joint venture in Western Australia after 12 months of talks, the Australian newspaper reported, citing the Chinese company’s chairman, Huang Tianwen.

Gold producers: Gold topped $1,400 an ounce, extending a rally to a record, on investor demand for an alternative to currencies.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s largest gold producer, slipped 0.4 percent to A$42.65.

Adelaide Brighton Ltd. (ABC AU): The Australian producer of construction materials was downgraded to “hold” from “buy” at Deutsche Bank AG. Its shares rose 0.3 percent to A$3.68.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU): Rolls-Royce Group Plc said the cause of the Trent 900 blowout that grounded Qantas’s fleet of A380s superjumbos is specific to that engine model, as it seeks to dispel concern about its flagship turbine family. Qantas shares lost 2.1 percent to A$2.80.

Sonic Healthcare Ltd. (SHL AU): The company is hoping to announce further acquisitions in the U.S. and Europe after agreeing to buy CBLPath Inc. for $123.5 million, the Australian Financial Review reported, citing an interview with Chief Executive Officer Colin Goldschmidt. Sonic shares were unchanged at A$10.93.

Sphere Minerals Ltd. (SPH AU): Xstrata Plc’s ownership of iron-ore developer Sphere has increased to 27.39 percent, it said in an e-mailed statement after Acorn Capital Ltd. agreed to take up Xstrata’s A$514 million cash offer. Sphere gained 0.3 percent to A$2.95.

Stockland (SGP AU) and FKP Property Group (FKP AU): The companies may initiate a swap of assets, the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column, without saying where it got the information. Stockland shares fell 0.8 percent to A$3.63. FKP advanced 0.5 percent to 93 Australian cents.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU): Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, is selling a 10 percent stake in Woodside for $3.35 billion, freeing up funds to support a six-fold increase in its Australian natural gas production. Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer climbed 0.2 percent to A$45.86.

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