Australia Stocks Creep Higher As Iron-ore Shares Rally Sharply

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After opening in negative territory Thursday, Australian stocks managed to rattle higher, with the S&P/ASX 200 edging up 0.1% about 40 minutes into the trading day. The gains for the broader market rested on the bedrock of an iron-ore share rally, due to both a strong gain in spot-ore prices and a sentiment-boosting bond offering by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. . Fortescue rallied 11.6% after selling $2.3 billion in debt, a much larger offering than expected amid strong demand. It marked a big turnaround for the miner, which had recently pulled a planned bond sale due to market conditions. An even bigger leap came from smaller iron-ore name BC Iron Ltd. after it issued its quarterly production report. Likewise, Arrium Ltd. rose 10%, and Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. added 5.6%, though shares of Atlas Iron Ltd. were suspended as its executives reportedly met with creditors in Los Angeles to seek a way to avoid receivership. The senior miners saw solid gains of their own, with Rio Tinto Ltd. up 2.1% and BHP Billiton Ltd. up 2.4%, but on the downside, weaker gold futures sent Newcrest Mining Ltd. down 3.2% and Evolution Mining Ltd. lower by 2.9%. Elsewhere on the market, Fairfax Media Ltd. rose 1% a day after J.P. Morgan upgraded the shares to neutral from underweight, while a gain for Brent crude-oil futures helped weigh on the airline shares, with Qantas Airways Ltd. down 0.9% and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. down 1.5%, while Oil Search Ltd. and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. added 0.6% apiece.

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