Australian stocks slouched a little in early Thursday action, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 0.2% after a 1.1% gain in the previous session. Miners and energy shares were among the heaviest weights on the market, reacting to losses for oil (Oil Search Ltd. down 1.1% despite announcing a dividend hike), gold (Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. down 3.2%; Perseus Mining Ltd. down 3.6%) and copper (Oz Minerals Ltd. down 1%; Sandfire Resources down 1.2%). Iron-ore miners were mixed despite a mild rebound in Chinese spot prices, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 3% and BC Iron Ltd. off 2.1%, but Atlas Iron Ltd. rising 1.4% after lifting its annual production target and unveiling an agressive new cost-cutting program. BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. lost 1.5% each. On the upside, shares of Boart Longyear Ltd. exploded 30% higher after the troubled mining-equipment company announced a debt restructure, while Leighton Holdings Ltd. added 2.3% after it posted a small dip in nine-month profit but also indicated a reduction in its debt load. Shares of Telstra Corp. added 0.6% as the telecom major kept its fiscal 2015 outlook unchanged.
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