Australian stocks rose early Friday, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3% on top of the previous day's 0.9% advance. The gains came even as the heavily weighted Big Four banks lost ground, with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp. down 0.2% each, Commonwealth Bank of Australia down 0.1% and National Australia Bank Ltd. off 0.4%. Dow Jones Newswires quoted Morgan Stanley as saying the big banks would likely need to raise additional capital over the next couple years. Senior miners BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. rose 0.8% and 1%, respectively, after the Australian government ditched plans to probe claims that the pair were driving iron-ore prices down with increased output in order to pressure smaller rivals. Among those rivals, Arrium Ltd. fell 1.7%, BC Iron Ltd. lost 2.3%, and Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. retreated by 1.3%. Energy shares tracked gains for the oil futures, meanwhile, with Woodside Petroleum Ltd. up 2.3%, Oil Search Ltd. up 2.9% and Santos Ltd. up 2.4%.
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