Australian stocks crept lower in Wednesday morning trade, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2%, doubling a 0.2% loss in the previous session as iron-ore miners sold off. After weak Chinese housing data helped trigger an almost 4.4% drop in iron-ore spot prices Tuesday, with selling described by Rivkin Securities Chief Executive Scott Schuberg as "fairly vicious," the iron-ore miners saw their stocks spiral downward: Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. dropped 5.4%, Arrium Ltd. fell 3.6%, Atlas Iron Ltd. retreated 7%, and BC Iron Ltd. took it especially hard, tumbling almost 14%. Senior miners BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. , which also depend on iron ore, gave up 1.2% and 1.5%, respectively. Conversely, gold miners tracked gains in the futures market to stage a solid advance, with Newcrest Mining Ltd. up 3.5%, Evolution Mining Ltd. up 6% and Perseus Mining Ltd. jumping 8.6%. Outside the resource sectors, media major Seven Group Holdings Ltd. lost 3% after issuing a profit warning and indicating limited visibility on its earnings outlook. Meanwhile, construction-materials company James Hardie Industries SE rallied 4% after posting a 12% gain in April-September revenue, though net profit fell 20%.
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