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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Alumina, Ansell, BHP, Newcrest, Qantas

Aug. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 2.6 percent to 4,282.90 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 1.1 percent to 3,252.63 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 in New York rose for a third straight session today, climbing as much as 1.1 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, advanced 4.3 percent to A$39.85. BHP’s biggest shareholder, BlackRock Inc., said the company should start another share buyback because failing to do so would send a “poor signal” to the market.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, gained 4.2 percent to A$74.52.

Gold producers: Gold futures for December delivery fell 0.5 percent on the Comex in New York on Aug. 12.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, dropped 0.8 percent to A$40.40, even after saying full-year profit rose 63 percent to a record, allowing the company to pay its first special dividend. Rival Alacer Gold Corp. (AQG AU) fell 2.8 percent to A$9.19.

Alumina Ltd. (AWC AU) jumped 8.2 percent to A$1.97. Alumina, a partner in the world’s biggest producer of the material used to make aluminum, was raised to “outperform” from “neutral” at Macquarie Group Ltd.

Ansell Ltd. (ANN AU), the world’s No. 1 maker of surgical gloves, rose 4.1 percent to A$13.68 after full-year net income beat analyst forecasts.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. (LEI AU), Australia’s biggest builder, surged 8.3 percent to A$21.49 after it reiterated a return to annual profit after reporting a loss for the year to June 30 today.

Lynas Corp. (LYC AU) gained 3 percent to A$2.04. Molycorp Inc., owner of the largest rare-earth deposit outside China, raised its full-year production forecast as it posted second-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates.

Macmahon Holdings Ltd. (MAH AU) surged 12 percent to 56.5 Australian cents after the company said it’s in talks with Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC over a contract for mining operations at the Tavan Tolgoi coal deposit.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU) rose 1 percent to A$1.53. Jetstar Airways Pty Ltd., the budget unit of Qantas, and Japan Airlines Co. may within days unveil a deal to create a low-cost Japanese carrier, the Australian newspaper said, citing a report in the Nikkei Business Daily.

Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA AU) climbed 6.5 percent to 24.5 Australian cents after Australia’s second-biggest airline said in a press release that it started its Capital Connect daily shuttle service between Sydney and Canberra.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net

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