Australian stocks got off to a strong start Tuesday, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.9% about an hour into trade, brushing off the dust from a 0.8% fall in the previous session. Earnings and production reports were in focus, particularly the quarterly output numbers from Rio Tinto Ltd. , which showed a drop in iron-ore shipments from the previous three months, though a gain in copper output. Shares of Rio Tinto were up 2%, slightly trailing rival BHP Billiton Ltd.'s 2.3% advance. Leighton Holdings Ltd. added 1.4% after posting a strong first-quarter unaudited-profit gain, while Oil Search Ltd. saw a milder 0.4% improvement after reporting a drop in revenue for the quarter. Financials saw some robust improvement after upbeat U.S. investment-bank earnings overnight, with Macquarie Group Ltd. up 1.4%, National Australia Bank Ltd. up 0.9%, and QBE Insurance Group Ltd. rallying 3.7%. A UBS note to clients, reported by Dow Jones Newswires, appeared to benefit shares which received favorable mention: Iluka Resources Ltd. rose 2.9%, and Qantas Airways Ltd. rallied 2.8% after the pair were named as among the best-priced of the Australian large-cap stocks.
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