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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Aquila, BHP, Echo, Mirvac, Qantas, Rio

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Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 1.9 percent to 4,149.40 at the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney. It fell 1.1 percent in the week for its second straight weekly drop.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index advanced 0.6 percent to 3,292.68 at the 5 p.m. close in Wellington, even as the gauge recorded its first weekly decline in five weeks.

The following were among the most active shares in the market today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names.

Mining companies: A measure of primary metals traded in London rose 1.2 percent yesterday, snapping four days of losses. Copper futures for December delivery advanced 1.5 percent in New York, and as much as 0.9 percent today.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, rose 1.6 percent to A$38.23. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, climbed 2.7 percent to A$71.27.

Oil stocks: Crude oil for October delivery climbed 0.6 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange yesterday.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, advanced 3.1 percent to A$34.25. Santos Ltd. (STO AU), Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, gained 2.1 percent to A$11.45.

Aquila Resources Ltd. (AQA AU) climbed 7.3 percent to A$6.35. International Coal Ventures Ltd. and Henan Coal Chemical Industry Group Co. are among bidders for an Aquila coal mine in Australia, three people with knowledge of the matter said. The companies are bidding for Aquila’s Washpool coking coal project, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential.

Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. (EGP AU) surged 5.3 percent to A$3.77 after the casino owner was raised to “overweight” from “neutral” at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Fairfax Media Ltd. (FXJ AU) gained 5.9 percent to 81 Australian cents. Julia Gillard, assailed by media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd., which controls 70 percent of newspapers in the country, told Bloomberg News that her government’s inquiry into the news industry won’t result in any change in ownership.

Mirvac Group (MGR AU) rose 3.5 percent to A$1.17. Bids for the Australian property group’s hotel business are due in today, with four frontrunners in the line-up, including France’s Accor SA, the Australian Financial Review reported in its Street Talk column.

Paladin Energy Ltd. (PDN AU) advanced 5.4 percent to A$1.65. The Australian company operating two uranium mines in Africa said it restarted production at the Kayelekera mine on Sept. 12, as scheduled, after plant upgrades were completed.

Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN AU) gained 2.9 percent to A$1.59. Australia’s biggest airline will deploy larger aircraft and consolidate services to limit the impact of planned strike action by members of the Transport Workers Union on Sept. 20. The four-hour strike will interrupt the morning peak at most airports and the carrier will contact affected passengers, Sydney-based Qantas said in an e-mailed statement.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net

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