Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Aquila, BHP, Fortescue, National Bank

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 2.7 percent to 4,183.40 the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney.

The gauge extended gains after a report showed Australia’s gross domestic product expanded 1.2 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months. That compared with the median of 25 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey for a 1 percent advance.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.9 percent to 3,300.95 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 in London gained as much as 1 today, rising for the first time in five days.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, gained 3.7 percent to A$38.23. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, climbed 3.2 percent to A$70.60.

Gold producers: Gold for immediate delivery fell 1.3 percent in London yesterday as some investors sold the metal to cover losses in the Swiss franc after the country’s central bank imposed a ceiling to the exchange rate. New York-traded gold futures dropped as much as 2.9 percent today.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, fell 0.6 percent to A$39.53. Rival St. Barbara Ltd. (SBM AU) lost 0.5 percent to A$2.23.

Aquila Resources Ltd. (AQA AU) surged 6.7 percent to A$6.03. The coal and iron-ore explorer said a viability study confirmed the “technical and economic feasibility” of the Washpool hard coking-coal project in Queensland state.

Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. (FMG AU) gained 2.7 percent to A$6.18. Fortescue’s Chichester hub in the Pilbara region has iron-ore reserves of 1,547 million metric tons, the company said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday.

Intrepid Mines Ltd. (IAU AU) added 2.3 percent to A$1.32. The company, which explores for precious metals primarily in Indonesia, said an article in the Australian Financial Review today saying it’s in merger talks is baseless.

National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB AU) climbed 3.6 percent to A$22.94 on speculation that the sale of its U.K. branches will boost return on equity. NBNK Investments Plc, the investment company founded by Lloyd’s of London Chairman Peter Levene, is in talks to acquire National Australia Bank’s U.K. units, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd. (VBA AU) rose 7.4 percent to 29 Australian cents. Australia’s second-biggest carrier reported preliminary operating statistics for the year to July 2011 and said the number of domestic passengers in July was 6 percent higher than a year earlier.

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