BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) shares have edged 10c or 0.3% higher in early trade today, taking its price to $37.75. So far for the year, the stock has retreated 0.6% while the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has moved 2.7% higher.
Australia’s mining stocks have been hit hard so far this year. This has been the case over the last month or so as the iron ore price has slumped to a multi-year low of just US$97.50 a tonne with miners more exposed to the commodity, like Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO), Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX: AGO), having fallen heavily.
Although BHP Billiton isn’t as reliant on iron ore for earnings as most of its competitors, the company has also been feeling the pressure of declining coal prices. BHP Billiton has admitted that there is no relief in sight, indicating that the pain will continue for some time yet.
Despite these negative leads however, the stock has likely risen today following news that the Australia Tugboat Union has suspended any strike action at Port Hedland (Australia’s largest iron ore port) for at least a month. Investors had been anxious of action being taken by workers after BHP warned that a strike could cost a combined $100 million per day in lost sales for the port’s exporters.
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