Australia Stocks Rise, Even As Iron Share Weaken

By Michael KitchenMarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks shook higher in early Wednesday trading, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.5% an hour into the session thanks in large part to the big banks, among the most heavily weighted components on the benchmark. Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.1%, National Australia Bank Ltd. added 0.9%, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group gained 0.7% and Westpac Banking Corp. advanced 0.5%, bouncing off recent Greece-related losses amid possible bargain hunting. Likewise, gains for crude-oil futures in New York and London juiced the energy names in Sydney, with Oil Search Ltd. up 1.5%, Santos Ltd. up 2%, and Woodside Petroleum Ltd. 0.9% higher. Shares of Transurban Group added 1.8%, even as Macquarie said the road-builder might issue new shares, while Macquarie separately upgraded its rating on Sydney Airport to outperform, with those shares up 5.2%. On the downside, a sharp fall for iron-ore prices back below the $60-per-metric-ton mark slammed some of the iron stocks. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. lost 4.7%, and Arrium Ltd. fell 5.6%, while senior miners BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Ltd. were down 2% and 1.7%, respectively.

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