Australia Stocks Rise, With Westpac, IAG Up On Deal News

MarketWatch Pulse

Australian stocks waltzed their way to early gains Tuesday, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.6% as deal news boosted a couple of key names in the financial arena. Specifically, Westpac Banking Corp. improved by 1.5% on news it was selling as much as a half billion U.S. dollars worth of shares from its stake in BT Investment Management Ltd. , stock in which wasn't trading. Meanwhile, Insurance Australia Group Ltd. rallied 5% after announcing an alliance with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. , including Berkshire's purchase of about $390 million worth of IAG stock. Among other financials on the rise, Australia & New Zealand Banking Group added 1.5%, National Australia Bank Ltd. gained 1%, and Suncorp Group Ltd. improved by 2.2%. Among the miners, iron-ore extractor Arrium Ltd. lost 3.3% as J.P. Morgan cut its price target on the name and said the company's debt level was uncomfortably high, according to Dow Jones Newswires. Meanwhile, a 2% loss for the front-month Brent North Sea crude-oil futures overnight helped push WorleyParsons Ltd. down 0.9% and Beach Energy Ltd. down 0.5%, but also helped air carriers Qantas Airways Ltd. and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. rise 0.8% and 0.5%, repsectively. Some gold miners tracked the yellow metal higher, with Newcrest Mining Ltd. up 1.7%, Perseus Mining Ltd. up 2.6%, and Kingsgate Consolidated Ltd. up 1%.

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