Negative leads pushed the Australian share market 1 per cent down at open after the European Central Bank’s (ECB) meeting disappointed investors with the lack of concrete outcomes. Local stocks have lifted off the session lows but are 0.8 per cent into the red, dragged down by losses in the mining, industrials and financial sectors.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is trading 38 points lower at 4,231. On the futures market the SPI is currently 41 points lower.
Australia’s services sector softened last month. According to Australian Industry Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) their performance of services index dropped 2.3 points to 46.5 in July, coming in under the 50 level which indicates contraction.
Westfield Group (ASX:WDC) has announced its expected first half distribution payment which will be paid at the end of August. The shopping centre owner expects to pay its shareholders 24.75 cents per ordinary stapled security. Westfield Group’s first half results are due for release on August 15, 2012. Shares in Westfield Group have firmed 0.20 per cent and are trading at $10.02.
Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) has confirmed that its loading operations in Papua New Guinea remain suspended after what the company describes as a small release of oil. The oil and gas explorer has advised production has been restricted because of a lack of storage capacity. Shares in Oil Search have slipped 0.92 per cent and are trading at $7.00.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trusts gaining 0.1 points to 922. Shares in Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR) have dropped 0.55 per cent and are trading at $1.35. Shares in CFS Retail Property Trust (ASX:CFX) and Goodman Group (ASX:GMG) are also lower.
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 210 points to 9,231. Shares in Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU) have fallen 9.46 per cent, trading at $0.34. Shares in Fortescue Limited (ASX:FMG) and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,591 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.047.