Australian stocks whipped higher out of the gate Friday, tracking gains for both commodities and U.S. markets, while shares of Rio Tinto Ltd. jumped as investors looked past the miner's earnings miss and focused on confirmation of a hefty stock repurchase program worth $2 billion. The S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.3% in early moves, more than erasing the previous day's 0.4% loss, while Rio Tinto stock was quoted 4.2% higher. Overnight advances for copper and other key resources helped to send Oz Minerals Ltd. up 2.6%, BHP Billiton Ltd. up 3.2%, Atlas Iron Ltd. up 3.8%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. up 2% and Independence Group NL up 3.1%. A bounce for crude-oil contracts, meanwhile, springboarded Caltex Australia Ltd. higher by 2.1%, and Santos Ltd. by 3.4% (even as J.P. Morgan said Santos may cut its dividend when it reports results next week), though Qantas Airways Ltd. reacted to crude's climb with a 0.4% drop. Gainers also included construction-related shares, as James Hardie Industries SE rose 3.2% and Leighton Holdings Ltd. advanced 3.4%. while developer Stockland added 1.7%. In other earnings news, stock in Newcrest Mining Ltd. edged 0.1% lower after posting a sharp gain in fiscal first-half profit but also a significant rise in its debt level. Sydney-listed shares of Alacer Gold Corp. fell a heavier 2.9% after its results.
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