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Market Update

Weak Iron Ore Prices Pare Australian Gains; QBE, Flight Center Net Rise

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 9:28 AM ET February 26 2013

6:30 PM Sydney Australian stocks closed higher but pared gains after the spot iron ore price declined 1.1% despite the port closures in Western Australia. QBE reported full-year net increased 8%. Flight Center reported record first half net with an increase of 13%. Ramsay Health Care net rose 10%.

Australian stocks closed higher but pared gains after the iron ore prices declined 1.1% and Italian election results indicated more uncertainty.

The ASX 200 index declined 52.20 or 1.03% to 5,003.60 and the broader All Ordinaries slumped 50.95 or 1% to 5,021.80.

The Australian dollar declined to $1.0255.

Stock Movers

Mining companies declined after the iron ore prices fell 1.1% to US$151.90 a ton despite the Port Hedland closure in Western Australia as the Cyclone Rusty approached the coast line.

Rio Tinto slipped 58 cents to $65.57 and BHP dropped 55 cents to $36.35. Lend Lease decreased 15 cents to $10.65. Fortescue Metals Group slumped 14 cents to $4.61.

Atlas Iron declined 3.4% to $1.545 after the miner reported first half loss of $256 million.

Whitehaven Coal declined 3% to $2.91 after the coal miner reported first half loss of $47 million.

Woodside Petroleum declined 66 cents to $36.34 and Santos gained 24 cents to $12.67.

Ramsay Health Care increased 1% after the private hospital operator reported 10.1% increase in net income.

Westpac slid 0.5%, Commonwealth slid 0.4% and National Australian Bank fell 1.1% to $29.95 and ANZ decreased 1.1% to $28.16.

QBE fell 28 cents to $12.75 after the insurer reported 8% increase in full-year profit and reiterated its plan to eliminate 700 jobs.

Billabong, the surfwear retailer gained 2 cents to 85.5 cents.

Flight Center increased 3% to $1.27 after the tour and flight package seller reported record first half profit of $91.8 million, 13% increase from the previous year.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc