Australia Stocks Rise Amid Earnings News, Big Toll Deal

Australia stocks gurgled modestly higher early Wednesday, with earnings and merger news dominating market attention as the S&P/ASX 200 was quoted up 0.2%. News of a likely extension for Greek bailout talks and a modestly positive finish for Wall Street also helped support shares. Among those reporting earnings, Woodside Petroleum Ltd. rose 2.8% after the restart of a major oil field helped to juice the company's annual profit by 40%. Arrium Ltd. traded 0.9% higher as investors remained unfazed by its swing to a hefty six-month loss -- instead, the rest of the iron-ore mining sector traded lower, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 2.4%, Atlas Iron Ltd. down 1.5%, and BC Iron Ltd. down 2.7%. And among the media shares, Seven West Media Ltd. rallied 3% as it confirmed its full-year guidance and said it expects to keep its dividend unchanged despite posting a loss for the fiscal first half. On the other hand, the market didn't take Insurance Australia Group Ltd.'s 10% profit drop well, bidding its shares 6.3% lower. But perhaps the most talked-about name Wednesday morning was Toll Holdings Ltd. , with its shares on a temporary trading halt as the massive, unlisted Japan Post Holdings made a takeover bid with an almost 50% premium, which the board quickly endorsed.

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