LOS ANGELES – Australian stocks looked to close out the week on a high note, as the S&P/ASX 200 sat 0.3% higher Friday morning with winners scattered across the market, though mining shares were mostly lower. Qantas Airways Ltd. rose 1.9%, extending its gains on the back of falling fuel prices, while BlueScope Steel Ltd. added 1.7%, helped by similar weakness in iron-ore costs. Among the retailers, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. added 1.4%, and Wesfarmers Ltd. improved by 1.2%. And in the media space, Ten Network -- facing multiple bids for potential investments or a takeover -- climbed 5%, while media-and-mining conglomerate Seven Group Holdings Ltd. gained 2.5% amid the steady drumbeat of its share repurchases, seeking to crawl back from losses after a profit warning last month. The major miners were mostly lower, however, with BHP Billiton Ltd. down 0.6%, and Rio Tinto Ltd. dropping 2.2%. The pair won U.S. congressional approval Thursday to build a massive, $6 billion copper mine in Arizona, according to the Australian Financial Review, while in other news for Rio, Chief Executive Sam Walsh said his company wouldn't rush into an acquisition to protect itself from a possible second merger bid from Glencore, a move which some recent commentary had suggested. Meanwhile, iron-ore shares suffered, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 2.4%, Atlas Iron Ltd. off 3.1%, and BC Iron Ltd. lower by 3%. Shares of Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. plunged 40% after it said it would close its iron mines at Koolan Island, at least for the time being, after landslips flooded the main pit with sea water, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
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