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Australia, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, BlueScope, Newcrest, Rio, Woodside

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.8 percent to 4,696.10 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index fell 0.5 percent to 3,540.31 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: Copper futures for July delivery declined 3.2 percent to close at $3.9135 a pound in New York yesterday after China reported inflation remains above the government’s target.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, fell 2.6 percent to A$44.13. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, lost 2 percent to A$79.79.

Oil stocks: Crude oil for June delivery fell 5.5 percent to settle at $98.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday after an Energy Department report showed U.S. supplies surged and fuel demand slipped.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, declined 2.5 percent to A$45.03. The company named Peter Coleman, a 27-year employee of Exxon Mobil Corp., to replace Don Voelte as chief executive officer.

Rival Santos Ltd. (STO AU) sank 3.1 percent to A$14.20.

Gold producers: Gold futures for June delivery fell 1 percent to settle at $1,501.40 on the Comex in New York yesterday. Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, slid 3.3 percent to A$38.19.

BlueScope Steel Ltd. (BSL AU) rose 2 percent to A$1.565. Australia’s largest steelmaker was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” at Credit Suisse Group AG.

Boral Ltd. (BLD AU) fell 2.4 percent to A$4.79. The company is seeking to acquire the other half of its Asian plasterboard joint venture with Lafarge SA, the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column, without saying where it got the information.

Onesteel Ltd. (OST AU) fell 2.2 percent to A$1.965. The steelmaker had its stock rating cut to “neutral” from “buy” by analysts at UBS AG.

New Zealand:

Nuplex Industries Ltd. (NPX NZ) lost 2.5 percent to NZ$3.08. The New Zealand resin manufacturer lowered full-year earnings forecasts, citing rising raw-material costs and weak demand.

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