Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.9 percent to 4,479.20 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index declined 0.7 percent to 3,481.61 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 fell for the fifth time in six sessions in New York yesterday on concern rising interest rates may curb demand in China, the world’s biggest metals consumer. Copper futures for September delivery declined 0.8 percent to settle at $4.139 a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Comex.
BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, lost 2.1 percent to A$42. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, declined 2.1 percent to A$78.40.
Oil stocks: Crude oil tumbled below $95 a barrel for the first time since February yesterday on concern that Europe’s debt crisis will deepen and on signals the U.S. economy is slowing.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, lost 2.2 percent to A$42.41.
Santos Ltd. (STO AU), Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, lost 1.9 percent to A$13.59.
Cooper Energy Ltd. (COE AU) dropped 2.9 percent to 33 Australian cents. The company’s board has initiated the search for a managing director to replace Michael Scott, who has offered to step down, a filing with Australia’s stock exchange showed.
Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU) fell 2.4 percent to A$1.81. Australia and New Zealand flights were disrupted for a fifth day because of a cloud of volcanic ash blown across the Pacific Ocean from Chile. Qantas and Virgin Australia canceled all trans-Tasman flights today, the airlines said in statements.
Wesfarmers Ltd. (WES AU) slipped 1.3 percent to A$31.48. India’s Lanco Infratech Ltd. won’t bid for the Premier Coal unit of Wesfarmers, Chairman L. Madhusudhan Rao said in New Delhi. Wesfarmers is an Australian company with businesses ranging from mining to insurance and retail.