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Australian, N.Z. Stocks: Alumina, BHP, Gunns, Hallenstein, Toll

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent to 4,290.7 at the close of trading in Sydney, recouping some of yesterday’s 0.5 percent drop.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3 percent to 3,324.67 in Wellington, extending yesterday’s 0.1 percent advanced.

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

Mining companies:

Alumina Ltd. (AWC AU) fell 1.2 percent to A$1.285 after Alcoa of Australia Ltd., jointly owned by Alcoa Inc. and Alumina, said it may cut production at its Point Henry smelter as global economic conditions “severely” hurt the industry.

BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU) slid 0.4 percent to A$37.75 after the world’s largest mining company reported a 5.5 percent drop in first-half profit to $9.9 billion, falling short of the average analyst estimate of $10 billion. Chief Executive Officer Marius Kloppers said on a conference call the company remains “cautious” on the market outlook.

Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU) gained 1.1 percent to A$71.76 as copper advanced on the London Metal Exchange. Separately, the world’s third-largest mining company and partners approved a $3.4 billion expansion of its iron-ore operations in Western Australia in a bid to boost output by more than 50 percent.

Gunns Ltd. (GNS AU) soared 36 percent to 17 Australian cents after New Zealand billionaire Richard Chandler agreed to buy A$150 million ($162 million) of new shares in Australia’s biggest wood-chip exporter to help fund the stalled Bell Bay pulp mill development. Gunns will raise a further A$130 million through a rights issue.

Henderson Group Plc (HGG AU) rose 4.5 percent to A$1.85 after Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation for the money manager to “overweight” from “equal weight.”

National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB AU) slid 1.2 percent to $A22.93, extending yesterday’s 4 percent decline, after Deutsche Bank AG downgraded its recommendation on the lender’s stock to “hold” from “buy.” The shares fell 4 percent yesterday after the bank said earnings were hurt by lower lending margins and a jump in U.K. bad debts.

Toll Holdings Ltd. (TOL AU) dropped 2.8 percent to A$4.96, a second day of declines. Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc lowered its stock recommendation for Australia’s biggest transport company to “hold” from “buy.”

Woodside Petroleum Ltd. (WPL AU) rose 2.4 percent to A$35.22 as crude oil for March delivery climbed for a second day in New York. Santos Ltd. (STO AU) rose 1.7 percent to A$14.

New Zealand stocks:

Hallenstein Glasson Holdings Ltd. (HLG NZ) rose 2.3 percent to NZ$3.63 after the clothing retailer said first-half earnings rose about 25 percent to NZ$8.7 million ($7 million) amid higher sales and improved margins. Revenue advanced 7.9 percent.

Mainfreight Ltd. (MFT NZ) gained 1.1 percent to NZ$9.95 after Deutsche Bank upgraded the logistics company’s stock rating to “buy” from “hold.”

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