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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Caltex, Southern Cross, Rio, Woodside

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.6 percent to 4,971.20 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.5 percent to 3,461.32 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.

Mining companies: A measure of metals traded in London climbed 2.1 percent on April 8, capping a fourth straight day of gains.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, added 3.8 percent to A$49.55. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, advanced 2.4 percent to A$88.30.

Oil and airline stocks: Crude rose above $112 in New York for the first time in 30 months last week amid skepticism Libyan output will rebound when fighting ends and as a weaker dollar increased demand for raw materials.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, rose 1.9 percent to A$48.16 after the Sunday Times reported that BHP is in talks to buy Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 24 percent stake in Woodside and make a full takeover offer.

Woodside pared a gain of as much as 7.6 percent after BHP doused speculation it plans to buy the stake and make a A$46 billion ($48.6 billion) takeover.

Rival Santos Ltd. (STO AU) climbed 1.3 percent to A$16.49. New Zealand Oil & Gas Ltd. (NZO NZ), that nation’s biggest publicly traded explorer, gained 1.1 percent to 95 New Zealand cents in Wellington.

Airline stocks fell on concern profits will be hurt by higher fuel prices. Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU), Australia’s biggest airline, dropped 3.2 percent to A$2.12. Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA AU), the nation’s second-largest airline, fell 1.6 percent to 30 Australian cents.

Caltex Australia Ltd. (CTX AU) declined 2.2 percent to A$15. The country’s largest oil refiner had its stock rating cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts led Merrill Lynch.

Southern Cross Media Group Ltd. (SXL AU), a broadcasting and publishing company, surged 6.5 percent to A$1.705 after announcing the completion of the institutional portion of a share offer.

New Zealand:

Vector Ltd. (VCT NZ), New Zealand’s largest electricity distributor, sank 4.3 percent to NZ$2.46 after saying it was “astounded” by a change in the industry regulator’s approach to pricing that may add to “regulatory uncertainty.”

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