Despite Wall Street closing on record highs last week, the Australian share market is struggling for direction so far this session and is tracking around 0.33 per cent lower at noon. The energy space is proving to be the biggest drag on the market thus far with losses in the likes of Woodside and Santos. Telcos are leading the charge with modest gains in Telstra and TPG Telcom.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 17 points down at 5,491. On the futures market the SPI is 17 points lower.
Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA) says it has entered into an off take contract with Tsingshan Group to import raw materials for the production of stainless steel. Tsingshan is China’s largest producer of stainless steel and is also the largest consumer of nickel products in the country. Western Areas says 10,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate will be delivered to Tsingshan per annum. Shares in Western Areas are trading up 2.22 per cent at $3.22.
Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX:SPL) has signed a new licence and supply agreement with a pharmaceutical company in Iran for the sales and marketing rights to the Viva Gel condom in Iran. The company says Iran represents a commercially attractive market with a young population of over 75 million. Starpharma says it won’t reveal the terms of the deal however, as the agreement is to remain confidential. Shares in Starpharma are trading up 1.49 per cent at $0.68.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Telcos, gaining 1 per cent to 1,808. Shares in Vocus Communications have risen 2.38 per cent and trading at $5.80. Shares in TPG Telecom and Telstra are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 2 per cent to 8,729. Shares in Woodside have fallen 2.83 per cent, trading at $30.22. Shares in Oil Search and Santos are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,194 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7442.