Australia, N.Z. Stocks: Mirabela, Oil Search, Newcrest, PanAust

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed at 4,224.20 at the close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index dropped 0.8 percent to 3,268.17 in Wellington.

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

Mirabela Nickel Ltd. (MBN AU) fell 13 percent to A$1.055, its biggest loss in almost three years, after Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts cut their stock ratings for the Brazil-focused miner. Volume in the stock was nearly five times its three-month average.

Newcrest Mining Ltd. (NCM AU), the world’s fourth-largest gold miner by market capitalization, climbed 2 percent to A$32.84 after it said in a second-quarter production report that an expected listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange would be completed by the end of March.

PanAust Ltd. (PNA AU) slid 3.5 percent to A$3.60 on nearly double its average volumes after the Laos-focused copper and gold miner forecast that 2012 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization would be between $340 million and $400 million.

Iluka Resources Ltd. (ILU AU) dropped 1.7 percent to A$18.30 after the world’s largest miner of zircon had its stocks rating cut to hold from buy at Royal Bank of Scotland.

Billabong International Ltd. (BBG AU) fell by the most in a month, dropping 6.1 percent to A$1.865. The world’s second-largest surf wear maker gave most of the ground it made up with a 6.4 percent increase yesterday.

Oil Search Ltd. (OSH AU) climbed 2.7 percent to a five-month high of A$6.84 after the company, which partners with Exxon Mobil Corp. on a $15.7 billion natural gas project in Papua New Guinea, said fourth-quarter sales rose 22 percent on higher crude prices.

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