LOS ANGELES – Australian stocks headed lower in Thursday-morning action, with miners mostly lower on weakening in some key commodity prices, though QANTAS rallied sharply despite posting its worst loss ever. The S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.3%, with BHP Billiton Ltd. down 0.3%, Rio Tinto Ltd. down 0.6%, and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 1.3% as spot iron ore fell to near a two-year low. Atlas Iron Ltd. fell 0.5%, even as it posted a return to profit, but Qantas -- which posted a record loss of almost $2.7 billion -- saw its shares surge 5.4% after Chief Executive Alan Joyce said the Australian flag carrier would return to profit in the first half of the current fiscal year. Whitehaven Coal Ltd. jumped by 3% after predicting higher metallurgical-coal demand due to a wave of recent mine closures, and Ramsay Health Care Ltd. enjoyed a 1% gain after posting a profit gain helped by the hospital operator's international expansion.
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