Australia, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, Nufarm, Sundance, Santos, Woodside

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.9 percent to 4,072.70 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. The gauge pared a gain of as much as 1.4 percent after a National Australia Bank Ltd. report showed Australian business confidence plunged last month to the lowest level since April 2009.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.7 percent to 3,285.41 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:

Commodity shares: Mining and oil companies rose as New York-traded copper futures advanced as much as 1.5 percent today and crude futures climbed as much as 1.2 percent.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, rose 2.3 percent to A$37.29. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, advanced 1 percent to A$68.90.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, climbed 1.8 percent to A$33.14. Santos Ltd. (STO AU), Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, gained 2.8 percent to A$11.21.

Nufarm Ltd. (NUF AU) surged 7.7 percent to A$4.19. The supplier of farm chemicals was raised to “hold” from “sell” at Deutsche Bank AG.

Sundance Resources Ltd. (SDL AU) dropped 10 percent to 40 Australian cents. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the nation’s markets regulator, said it’s investigating suspected insider-trading activities in relation to Sundance and Bannerman Resources Ltd. (BMN AU).

Bannerman shares fell 10 percent to 31 Australian cents. Sundance shares pared losses after it said in a statement later that it has no comment in relation to the ASIC investigation, adding that it doesn’t relate to the conduct of the company or its personnel. Separately, Hanlong Mining acknowledged that three of its employees were involved in an ASIC probe.

Telecom Corp. of New Zealand Ltd. (TEL AU) gained 2.1 percent A$1.99. Shareholders will be about NZ$500 million ($412 million) better off with Telecom’s decision to join the government’s ultrafast broadband plan rather than compete with it, according to an independent appraisal of the plan by Grant Samuel & Associates. Telecom plans to structurally separate, allowing its Chorus unit to partner the government in the broadband plan. In Wellington trading, the stock climbed 2 percent to NZ$2.515.

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