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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: IAG, Rio Tinto, White Energy, Western

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.1 percent to 4,935.80 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.5 percent to 3,383.47 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington.

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

Australia:

Mining companies: A measure of metals traded in London rose 0.1 percent on Feb. 11. Copper gained 0.2 percent, zinc 0.6 percent, and nickel 1.6 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, advanced 1.9 percent to A$47.28. BHP may buy back shares valued at $5 billion to $6 billion, which would bring the total value of shares bought back to around $10 billion, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-largest mining company, climbed 1.4 percent to A$88.50. Rio forecasts high copper prices will continue amid rising demand and before output from new projects eases a supply shortfall.

Insurance Australia Group Ltd. (IAG AU) fell 4 percent to A$3.63 after saying first-half insurance profit dropped 3.7 percent amid rising claims for injuries in the U.K. and damage caused by natural disasters, prompting a cut to its forecast insurance margin.

Telstra Corp Ltd. (TLS AU) rose 0.7 percent to A$2.93. Australia’s biggest telephone company was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” at Macquarie Research, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Western Areas NL (WSA AU) gained 4.2 percent to A$6.52. The nickel supplier to BHP reported first-half net profit and raised its production guidance for the full year by 16 percent, according to a statement filed to the Australian stock exchange.

White Energy Co. (WEC AU), an Australian coal company, advanced 3.6 percent to A$3.16 after saying its Cascade Coal Pty. acquisition has been finalized, subject to shareholder approval.

New Zealand:

Freightways Ltd. (FRE NZ) rose 2.2 percent to NZ$3.27 after New Zealand’s second-biggest courier company said first-half net income rose 9 percent.

Guinness Peat Group Plc (GPG NZ) dropped 1.3 percent to 76 New Zealand cents after its stock rating was cut to “underperform” from “neutral” by analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shani Raja in Sydney at sraja4@bloomberg.net.

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

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