Australian, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, Ardent, Iluka, Paladin, Sky City

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed at 4,930.20 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slipped 0.2 percent to 3,384.48 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.

Oil companies: Oil for March delivery slipped 0.6 percent to settle at $84.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday, the lowest level since Nov. 30.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-largest oil and gas producer, slid 0.4 percent to A$42.45. Santos Ltd. (STO AU) dropped 1.3 percent to A$13.80.

Gold producers: Gold futures for April delivery rose 0.7 percent to $1,374.10 an ounce at 1:42 p.m. on the Comex in New York yesterday.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, gained 1.2 percent to A$38.25. St. Barbara Ltd. (SBM AU) gained 2.6 percent to A$1.945.

Ardent Leisure Group (AAD AU) jumped 17 percent to A$1.37 after the trust that invests in Australian leisure and entertainment properties reported first-half earnings.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, fell 1.6 percent to A$46.59. The company, which reported 72 percent higher first-half profit, damped talk that it’s looking to make major acquisitions, instead committing to spend $80 billion to expand and develop its own mines and oil fields.

CSL Ltd. (CSL AU) retreated 1.3 percent to A$37.02 after the maker of blood-derived medical treatments reported first-half net income of A$500 million ($498 million).

Iluka Resources Ltd. (ILU AU) climbed 3.8 percent to A$10.01. The world’s biggest zircon producer had its stock rating raised to “buy” from “hold” by analysts at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

Paladin Energy Ltd. (PDN AU) fell 3.7 percent to A$5.21. The Australian mining company producing uranium in Africa had its stock rating cut to “hold” from “buy” by analysts at Citigroup Inc.

The Reject Shop Ltd. (TRS AU) sank 3 percent to A$13.09 after the discount retailer reported net income for the first half.

New Zealand:

Sky City Entertainment Group Ltd. (SKC NZ) dropped 1.2 percent to NZ$3.29 after New Zealand’s largest casino operator reported first-half profit.

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