LOS ANGELES – Australian stocks meandered around the break-even line early Friday, with the S&P/ASX 200 little changed as the tail end of earnings season and other news guided shares. National Australia Bank Ltd. was in the spotlight, its shares up 0.9% on plans to sell a minority stake in its U.S. unit -- Great Western Bank -- through an initial public offering in the fourth quarter. Among the earnings reports, uranium extractor Paladin Energy Ltd. jumped 6.2% on its result, but retail major Woolworths Ltd. fell 1% depite posting a profit gain for the fiscal year. Shares of Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. added 0.5% after the airline operator posted a wider loss for the fiscal year that ended in June but said it sold a stake in its frequent-flier business. Key rival Qantas Airways Ltd. rallied 5.2%, with J.P. Morgan and others lifting their price targets on the shares after the carrier posted its biggest-ever loss a day earlier but predicted a profit for the second half of the year. Shares of Toll Holdings Ltd. enjoyed a 2.5% advance after it said it had renewed some key contracts with Singapore.
Copyright © 2014 MarketWatch, Inc.