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Final stages of free float some stocks effected

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    http://money.iwon.com/jsp/nw/nwdt_rt.jspcat=USMARKET&src=201&feed=reu§ion=news&
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    Australian stocks seen a touch soft, MSCI in play
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    Wednesday May 29, 6:13 PM EDT
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    SYDNEY, May 30 (Reuters) - Australian stocks may hold their ground on Thursday despite Wall Street's weak lead with a lift in volume likely as index-driven fund managers adjust portfolios ahead of the final phase of the MSCI free float changes.
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    U.S. stocks fell as more corporate red flags flew over Wall Street, with energy trader El Paso Corp (EP) warning of tepid results and chip gear maker Novellus Systems Inc (NVLS) declining to give second-half financial guidance.
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    The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC) lost 27.78 points or 1.68 percent to 1,624.39, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX) fell 6.89 points or 0.64 percent to 1,067.66, and the blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average (DJI) shed 58.54 points or 0.59 percent to 9,923.04.
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    But some market watchers saw a silver lining in the form of thin trading volumes -- which often exaggerate market moves. Adding further support to Australia's already bullish gold sector, bullion soared to its highest level in nearly five years. It fixed in London at $327.05 a troy ounce, but later slipped from the highs in New York trade and last traded at $324.80.
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    Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index (AXJO) eased 4.7 points or 0.14 percent to 3,381.2 on Wednesday and June share price index futures pointed to only slight weakness at the open.
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    Gold stocks remain in play, in the wake of Placer Dome Inc's (PDG) (PDG) bid for AurionGold (AOR) earlier this week.
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    Newcrest Mining (NCM) and Lihir Gold (LHG) have rallied as investors speculate on another major offshore miner such as Canada's Barrick Gold Corp (ABX) or South Africa's AngloGold (ANGJ) making a takeover move.
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    FINAL PHASE OF MSCI FREE FLOAT
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    The weighting of a stock in the MSCI indices -- of greater importance to global players than Australian fund managers who tend to follow Standard & Poor's indices -- has been altered to reflect the proportion of shares freely available to investors.
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    Stakes that may be tightly held by founding families or governments have been excluded from the new weightings.
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    In Australia's case, the most dramatic moves have been a downweighting for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NCP) empire, and a downweighting of the country's largest telco Telstra Corp (TLS) to reflect the majority ownership of the government.
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    The final phase of the MSCI changes takes effect after the close of trade on Friday, following the first half of its implementation last November.
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    Australian stocks listed in the series for the first time include ANZ Banking Group (ANZ), Macquarie Bank (MBL), Woodside Petroleum (WPL) and Westfield Holdings (WSF).
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    Lend Lease (LLC) and Harvey Norman Holdings (HVN) have been downweighted, while financial services group Suncorp Metway Ltd (SUN), industrial minerals miner Iluka Resources (ILU), Insurance Australia Group (IAG), and publisher John Fairfax Holdings (FXJ) have been upweighted.
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