Australian stocks nosed into minor gains early Monday, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% after Friday's 0.9% climb on the back of the Bank of Japan's surprise stimulus move. Shares of Westpac Banking Corp. edged 0.2% higher after posting a fiscal-year profit roughly in line with forecasts, with the stock trailing its peers (Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank Ltd. up 0.3% each, Commonwealth Bank of Australia up 0.4%). But Brambles Ltd. bopped 2.2% higher after the world's No. 1 maker of wooden warehouse pallets hiked its full-year earnings forecast. On the downside, Woolworths Ltd. lost 2.6% in early trades after discounting led the retailer to miss its quarterly sales estimate. Airline stocks rose as crude-oil prices returned to their losing ways, helping to send Qantas Airways Ltd. up 1% and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. higher by 1.8%. Likewise, gold's drop to a fresh multiyear low pushed Newcrest Mining Ltd. down 5.7%, Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. down 4.1%, and Perseus Mining Ltd. down 10%.
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