Following mixed offshore leads, the Australian share market opened lower and slid into negative territory, falling 0.7 per cent at noon.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 28 points down at 4,036. On the futures market the SPI is 29 points lower.
In its latest review of internal forecasts, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) has trimmed its outlook for commodities prices over the next three to five years. The global miner's chief Marius Kloppers said last week, it had lower demand overall from a global perspective with supply conditions in some of its products being different to where they were in September last year. Shares in BHP are trading down 1.11 per cent at $31.57.
Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) will remain in a trading halt until Monday according to media reports. The company was expected to finalise the details of its $450 million capital raising.Shares in Echo last traded at $4.49.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Telco Services gaining 2 points to 1,238. Shares in Telecom Corp of New Zealand (ASX:TEL) have risen 2.76 per cent and trading at $1.86. Shares in Telstra and SingTel are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 166 points to 12,336. Shares in Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL) have fallen 6.32 per cent and trading at $0.89. Shares in AWE and Beach Energy are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1617.72 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $99.40 US cents.