Australia, New Zealand Stocks: BHP Billiton, Guinness Peat

Saturday, May 16, 2009
May 15 (Bloomberg) -- The S&P/ASX 200 Index added 1.3 percent to 3,773.20 at the close in Sydney, paring the week’s loss to 4.3 percent. New Zealand’s NZX 50 index rose 0.5 percent to 2,790.90, cutting the week’s decline to 2.9 percent. The following were among the most active shares in the markets today. Stock symbols are in parentheses after company names. Australian stocks: Mining shares: BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP AU), the world’s largest mining company, gained 3.2 percent to A$33.34. UBS AG reported BHP may offer to help rival miner Rio Tinto raise capital as an alternative to a proposed $19.5 billion tie-up with Aluminum Corp. of China. Rio Tinto Group (RIO AU), the world’s third-biggest mining company, jumped 7.4 percent to A$61.88. The company remains committed to the investment by Aluminum Corp., it said in a statement responding to a query from the Australian stock exchange. Rio’s Sydney-traded shares tumbled 20 percent this week through yesterday after London’s Telegraph newspaper reported that Rio may offer as much as 5 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) of shares to current shareholders if the Aluminum Corp. deal is not allowed to proceed. Financial stocks: Bank borrowing costs slumped on optimism central bank efforts to unlock credit markets are bearing fruit. The three-month London interbank offered rate, or Libor, fell almost three basis points to 0.85 percent yesterday, according to the British Bankers’ Association. National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB AU), the nation’s biggest lender by assets, added 1.4 percent to A$21.47. Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC AU), the biggest by market value, rose 1.2 percent to A$20.45. Energy & Minerals Australia Ltd. (EMA AU), a uranium producer, climbed 8.8 percent to 37 Australian cents. The company said it plans to raise money within the next three months to fund Western Australia’s third-biggest uranium mine. It aims to start production in 2013. Exoma Energy Ltd. (EXE AU), an oil and gas exploration company, surged 216 percent to 9.8 Australian cents. The company said it has agreed to buy a gas project in the state of Queensland. Macmahon Holdings Ltd. (MAH AU), the Perth-based contract mining and construction company, dropped 8.2 percent to 35.5 Australian cents after completing a A$46 million ($34.9 million) share sale to institutional investors at 32 Australian cents per share. The company will sell a further A$14 million to retail investors. Santos Ltd. (STO AU), the nation’s third-biggest oil and gas producer, gained 4.8 percent to A$14.13. The company said its proposed A$7.7 billion liquefied natural gas project in Gladstone, in the state of Queensland, remains ahead of rival ventures. Stockland (SGP AU), Australia’s largest housing developer, slumped 9 percent to A$2.88 after completing an A$1.56 billion share sale to institutional investors at A$2.70 per share. The company said it will raise another A$420 million from the sale of shares to retail investors. The stock resumed trading today following a two-day suspension. Transurban Group (TCL AU), Australia’s biggest operator of toll roads, gained 1.5 percent to A$4.11. The company’s rating was raised to “neutral” from “underweight” at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which cited declines in its share price. Woolworths Ltd. (WOW AU), Australia’s biggest retailer, added 1.5 percent to A$25.84. The company said it will pay as much as A$1.9 million for a 25 percent stake in Gage Roads Brewing Co. New Zealand stocks: Guinness Peat Group Plc (GPG NZ), a London-based investor, surged 6.7 percent to 80 New Zealand cents. The company said its net assets were NZ$2 billion ($1.17 billion) or NZ$1.41 a share as of May 4. That compares with NZ$1.33 a share as of Dec. 22.

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