Midday: Aus shares slightly higher in afternoon trade

Market Reports

Following an overnight rally in Europe and speculation the ECB will boost its quantitative easing program, the Australian share market has opened slightly higher this morning and is tracking 0.3 per cent higher at noon. The miners are doing the heavy lifting after commodity prices stabilised overnight, but the financials space is proving to be a drag on the market. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 13 points higher at 5,041. On the futures market the SPI is 16 points higher. 

Economic news
 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported a 0.1 per cent decrease in short-term arrivals for July. Short-term resident departures increased 0.7 per cent compared with last month.

Company news

Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW) has welcomed the S&P Dow Jones Indices’ announcement noting its upcoming inclusion in the S&P/ASX 300 index. Official inclusion is effective after the close of trade on the 18th of September. The company says the improved liquidity and profile will be beneficial for all Brickworks’ shareholders. Shares in Brickworks are 1.01 per cent lower at $14.73. 
 
Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) says the New South Wales Independent Gaming and Liquor Authority has granted approval for Genting Hong Kong to increase its voting power in Echo from 10 per cent to 23 per cent. The casino operator says the decision will enable ownership, management, finances and operations of The Star in Sydney to remain financially viable and successful. Shares in Echo Entertainment are trading 2.26 per cent higher at $4.75. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Materials, gaining 1.6 per cent to 8,038. Shares in Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) have risen 2.8 per cent and trading at $2.02. Shares in South 32 and Bluescope Steel are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is REITs, falling 0.5 per cent to 1,202. Shares in SCA Property (ASX:SCP) have fallen 1.84 per cent, trading at $1.86. Shares in Charter Hall and Federation Centres are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,125 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 70.01 US cents.