Australian stocks opened sharply higher Wednesday, taking their cue from an overnight rally in the U.S., with mining shares in the lead despite drops in some commodities such as nickel and zinc. In early action, the S&P/ASX 200 was quoted 1.1% higher, having eeked out a slim 0.1% gain in the previous session. Among the major miners, BHP Billiton Ltd. was in focus after posting quarterly iron-ore production 17% higher than a year earlier, as well as a 9% rise during the quarter for overall group production, even as copper output fell. Shares of BHP added 1.2%, while rival Rio Tinto Ltd. advanced 1.8%. Iron-ore players showed some strong gains as well, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. up 3.4%, Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. up 3%, and BC Iron Ltd. gaining 3.3%. Among other leading advancers, NIB Holdings Ltd. rallied 4.2%, News Corp. (the corporate parent of MarketWatch) climbed 4.4%, and Incitec Pivot Ltd. improved by 2.9%. Also in the news, Senex Energy Ltd. traded 2% higher despite reporting an almost 15% drop in revenue for the September quarter, while shares of Woolworths Ltd. underperformed with a 0.5% gain as the retailer denied a report in The Australian that it planned to sell its Big W unit.
Copyright © 2014 MarketWatch, Inc.
Continue Reading Below