Midday: Aus shares rally 1.2%

Market Reports

The local share market has jumped more than 1 per cent today in the wake of gains in the US and Europe. Positive news on China’s GDP yesterday helped buoy overseas markets as is the likelihood of stimulus being announced by the European Central Bank tomorrow.
 
The rally on the ASX was led by the materials sector despite a further fall in the iron ore price overnight.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 indexis 62 points up at 5,369. On the futures market the SPI is 63 points higher.
 
Economic news

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment was up 2.4 per cent in December amid falling petrol prices and speculation that interest rates will be cut in coming months. 
 
Company news
 
Nickel miner Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA) has reported a half year unit cash cost of $2.37/lb which is about 20 per cent lower than full year guidance. The company says the lower Australian dollar helped to offset the decline in the nickel price. And that mine production was around 132,000 tonnes of ore at an average grade of 5 per cent. Shares in Western Areas are trading up 3.79 per cent at $3.56 
 
Cellmid Limited (ASX:CDY) has been granted a US patent for the use of midkine to treat heart failure. The Australian biotech company says midkine has been shown to promote new blood vessel growth in affected tissue and can increase long term survival rates from non-fatal heart attacks. The company already holds equivalent patents in Europe and Japan. Shares in Cellmid are trading up 8 per cent at $0.03
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is materials, gaining 1.9 per cent to 8,478. Shares in EVOLUTION Mining (ASX:EVN) have risen 6.46 per cent and trading at $0.95. Shares in Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) are also stronger.
 
The worst performing sector is energy, falling 0.03 per cent to 10,298. Shares in Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH)have fallen 2.27 per cent, trading at $7.31. Shares in AWE Limited (ASX:AWE) and Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN) are also lower.
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,291 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8172