LOS ANGELES – Australia stocks meandered lower Monday, with miners among the few gainers ahead of key economic data from China, a critical export market for Australian firms. The S&P/ASX 200 pulled 0.2% lower to 5,297.40, with BlueScope Steel Ltd. down 1.4%, grocer Wesfarmers Ltd. off 1%, and energy major Woodside Petroleum Ltd. down 1.5%. However, gains for gold futures late last week pushed Newcrest Mining Ltd. up 4.2% and Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. 4.7% higher, while shares of uranium extractor Paladin Energy Ltd. jumped 12% on news it was selling a 25% in a Nambian mine to a state-owned Chinese firm. The two largest Sydney-listed miners, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. , also saw gains, rising 0.6% and 0.7%, respectively. Among the Chinese data due out later in the day were gross domestic product for the fourth quarter, and retail sales and industrial output for December.
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