Australian stocks floated modestly higher early on Wednesday, the last trading day of the year, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.1% to reclaim a thin slice of the 1% it lost the previous session. The small move for the benchmark masked some more dramatic action for the miners, especially the gold and iron-ore plays, with thin volumes likely exagerating the gains. Among them, Evolution Mining Ltd. rose 3%, Perseus Mining Ltd. added 4.1%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. gained 2%, Atlas Iron Ltd. improved by 7.7%, and Arrium Ltd. jumped 10.5% (putting Arrium up 20% for the week but still down a drastic 86% for the year). Outside of the mining space, most blue chips saw relatively minor gains and losses, with the few exceptions including WorleyParsons Ltd. (up 1.4%), Fairfax Media Ltd. (up 1.7%), Origin Energy Ltd. (up 1.5%) and Scentre Group (down 1.4%). The Sydney bourse was slated to trade for just a half day Wednesday and then close Thursday to celebrate the new year. For all of 2014, as of Wednesday morning, the S&P/ASX 200 was up 1.3%, a smaller gain than most of its East Asia peers.
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