Australian stocks weakened further in Thursday morning trade, as the S&P/ASX 200 retreated another 0.6%, after a 0.6% drop in the previous session. Fresh losses for the miners again dragged on the market, with a central role played by the odyssey of pain on the iron-ore market -- among the iron plays, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. lost 5.3%, Arrium Ltd. gave up 1.2%, and Mt. Gibson Iron Ltd. retreated 2%, while among the diversified senior miners, Rio Tinto Ltd. dropped 1.7% and BHP Billiton Ltd. was down 1.9%. BC Iron Ltd. managed to rise 1.7%, but it seemed cold comfort, as its shares have shed almost 90% of their value so far this year. The volatile gold miners also suffered with the commodity markets, as Newcrest Mining Ltd. dropped 3%, Evolution Mining Ltd. fell 4.2% and St. Barbara Ltd. tumbled 5%. Iluka Resources Ltd. was down 1.9% after the mineral-sands player saw Deutsche Bank cut its rating on Iluka shares to hold from buy, along with a lower price target. But on the upside, Oz Minerals Ltd. added 0.8% after updating investors on the reserves at its Prominent Hill copper mine. Elsewhere on the market, stock in Qantas Airways Ltd. lost 1.4% after reporting that Franklin Resources sold 15 million Qantas shares (out of 2.2 billion shares outstanding), cutting its stake in the airline to 16.4%.
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