Australia stocks add to gains, but retailers weak
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Australian stocks extended their recent sharp rally with gains Thursday, as miners reacted to some improved commodity prices. The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3% to 4,721.90 in early moves after the benchmark climbed 1.2% in the previous session on news the U.S. secured a deal to undo its fiscal cliff of austerity measures. Gains overnight for gold and copper, among other commodities, helped push the heavily weighted mining sector higher, with Rio Tinto Ltd. rising 1.2%, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. up 1.8%, Alumina Ltd. jumping 2.2%, and Newcrest Mining Ltd. adding 1.5%, though BHP Billiton Ltd. underperformed with a 0.1% advance. Airlines saw even sharper improvement, with Qantas Airways Ltd. and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. each higher by 2.3%. Some major retailers took a break from recent gains, however, as shopping-mall operator Westfield Group Australia fell 1.3%, Woolworths Ltd. slipped 0.1%, Myer Holdings Ltd. lost 0.5% and Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. retreated 0.8%.
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