Australia, N.Z. Stocks: BHP, Newcrest, New Hope, Onesteel, Rio

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 3.7 percent to 4,069.90 as of the 4:10 p.m. close of trading in Sydney, the biggest increase since December 2008.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index gained 0.5 percent to 3,346.21 in Wellington.

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

Mining stocks: Copper futures rose, halting the longest slump in almost two months, on speculation that European Union officials will act to contain the region’s debt crisis.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s No. 1 mining company, gained 3.3 percent to A$36.30.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s second-largest mining company by sales, climbed 4.9 percent to A$63.28.

Oil stocks: Crude oil for November delivery surged 5.3 percent yesterday in New York after the U.S. government reported an unexpected stockpile decline in the world’s biggest crude-consuming country.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU), Australia’s second-biggest oil and gas producer, rose 4.7 percent to A$34.34. Santos Ltd. (STO AU), Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, gained 2.1 percent to A$11.60.

Bathurst Resources Ltd. (BTU AU) jumped 15 percent to 70 Australian cents. The company was raised to “buy” by UBS AG as shares look oversold.

James Hardie Industries SE (JHX AU), a building-materials supplier that gets almost 70 percent of its sales from the U.S., climbed 8.2 percent to A$5.84. A report from ADP Employer Services showed U.S. employers added 91,000 jobs in September and the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index fell less than forecast.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), Australia’s biggest gold producer, added 3.5 percent to A$35.06. Gold futures for December delivery advanced 1.6 percent yesterday in New York.

New Hope Corporation Ltd. (NHC AU) gained 0.2 percent to A$6.11. Xstrata Plc, Peabody Energy Corp. and GVK Power & Infrastructure Ltd. may bid for New Hope, according to the Financial Review, after the company took preliminary steps yesterday to put itself up for sale.

Onesteel Ltd. (OST AU) surged 8.6 percent to A$1.265. The steelmaker said it completed the acquisition of WPG Resources Ltd.’s units that own iron-ore assets in South Australia.

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