Australia Stocks Rise Solidly, With Market's Eyes On BHP

MarketWatch Pulse

Australia stocks went galloping upward in early Tuesday market action, with strong overnight gains on Wall Street helping to send the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.7%, more than erasing its 0.3% loss the previous session. Much of the morning's market commentary in the media focused on BHP Billiton Ltd. , which unveiled details of its plans to spin off nickel, aluminum and other non-core assets into a new company to be called South32. The demerger, which will give one share in the new South32 entity for each BHP share held, met with apparent market approval, as BHP stock advanced 1.3%. Fellow diversified senior miner Rio Tinto Ltd. added 0.8%, while iron-ore miners also enjoyed some interest, as BC Iron Ltd. rallied 3.9%, and Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. advanced 2.3%. With Australian central-bank meeting minutes due out later in the morning likely to be combed for hints of an upcoming rate cut, the top banking names -- often seen as a good source of yield as interest rates fall -- outperformed. Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 1.1%, with brokerage Bell Potter upgrading the shares to buy from hold, based in part on its dividend yield outlook. Likewise, National Australia Bank Ltd. and Westpac Banking Corp. gained 1% each, while Australia & New Zealand Banking Group added 0.8%, and investment bank MACQ imporved by 1.5%. On the downside, major retailer Myer Holdings Ltd. saw its shares sink 0.6% after Citi cut its price target on the stock by 14%, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

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