Australian stocks opened to gains Wednesday morning, with the S&P/ASX 200 rising 0.3% to 5,986 in a renewed assault on the fabled 6,000 level, last seen in January 2008. A mild rebound for iron-ore prices prompted gains for the iron plays, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. up 2%, Arrium Ltd. up 1%, and Atlas Iron Ltd. rallying 10.7%. The Australian Financial Review quoted former Fortescue chief executive Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest as urging iron-ore extractors to collectively announce a cap on ore output to support flagging prices. Meanwhile, energy shares traded mixed (Woodside Petroleum Ltd. down 0.2%, Oil Search Ltd. up 0.3%, Beach Energy Ltd. down 0.5%) as New York crude-oil futures advanced but rival Brent futures fell. WorleyParsons Ltd. got a 1.3% bump in its share price after Morgan Stanley hiked its target on the stock by 14%, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Agricultural-chemical maker Nufarm Ltd. fell 1.4% despite posting a 23% increase in six-month profit and a 25% hike to its dividend. And stock in media company Seven Group Holdings Ltd. gave up 3.7%, as the shares went ex-dividend.
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