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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Westpac, Alacer, Lynas, BHP, Virgin

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 1.1 percent to 4,271.30 at the close of trading in Sydney. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index climbed 0.4 percent to 3,280.10 in Wellington.

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

Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC AU) rose 3.5 percent to A$21.30 after it sold A$1.7 billion of covered bonds at a yield below the record-high premium paid by Commonwealth Bank of Australia Jan. 17. The S&P/ASX 200 financials index was the best performer of the benchmark gauge’s sub-indexes, climbing 2.1 percent to its highest level since Dec. 8. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA AU) jumped 2.4 percent to A$51.

Alacer Gold Ltd. (AQG AU) fell 10 percent to A$9.32, the biggest decline in the S&P/ASX 200 Index. Toronto-listed shares in the miner with projects in Australia and Turkey dropped 12 percent yesterday after the company issued 2012 gold output estimates that trailed analysts’ forecasts.

Lynas Corp Ltd. (LYC AU) climbed 5.1 percent to A$1.345, making it the second-best performer in the benchmark index. The rare-earths miner, which had been suspended from trading for two days, yesterday sold a $225 million convertible bond to help fund a delayed refinery it is hoping to build in Malaysia.

Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd. (GGG AU) climbed 7.8 percent to 55 Australian cents. The company yesterday reported that it expects a “substantial increase” in the size of its Kvanefjeld deposit in Greenland, one of the world’s largest rare-earths resources.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s biggest mining company, rose 0.9 percent to A$37.42 after Deutsche Bank AG said in a client note that the company may approve a $5 billion expansion to its Escondida joint venture, the world’s largest copper mine, this quarter.

Atlas Iron Ltd. (AGO AU) slumped 4.3 percent to A$3.12 after saying in a quarterly update that heavy rain in the Pilbara region would prevent the iron-ore miner hitting its 2012 production target.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. (VAH AU) rose 3.3 percent to 31.5 Australian cents after the Australian Financial Review newspaper quoted the chief executive officer of Etihad Airways as saying he would be interested in a larger stake in Australia’s second-largest airline.

Alesco Corp Ltd. (ALS AU) shares rose 7.3 percent to A$1.245, the biggest increase since Sep. 29, after the industrial products company reported that net profit was nearly four times the prior year’s figure during its first half.

Santos Ltd. (STO AU), Australia’s third-largest oil and gas producer, lost 0.4 percent to A$13.63, while fourth-ranked Oil Search Ltd. (OSH AU) fell 0.4 percent to A$6.87. A landslide in the highlands region of Papua New Guinea yesterday halted work on a liquefied natural gas venture between the two Australian companies and Exxon Mobil Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John McCluskey at

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