The Australian share market has followed a stronger lead from Wall Street and is in the black, but only just, tracking 0.25 per cent higher at noon. The financials space is doing the bulk of the heavy lifting so far with gains in all of the big four banks of between 0.5 and 1 per cent. Utilities is faring the worst with losses in APA Group (ASX:APA) and Duet Group (ASX:DUE).
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 15 points up at 5,636. On the futures market the SPI is 10 points higher.
Australian retail turnover has softened for December, according to latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retail turnover fell 0.1 per cent for the month, compared to a 0.1 per cent rise in November.
Lithium Australia NL(ASX:LIT) says it intends to make a conditional off-market scrip bid valued at $23.8 million, for all of the shares in fellow explorer Lepidico Limited (ASX:LPD). The basis of the offer will be one fully paid Lithium Australia share for every 13.25 shares in Lepidico. Lithium Australia is currently seeking a declaration from the Supreme Court of WA in relation to its Sileach, lithium treatment process. Shares in Lithium Australia are trading up 5.56 per cent at $0.19.
Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX:GXY) has gone into a trading halt pending the release of an announcement by the company. The lithium producer says the announcement relates to a capital raising and it will inform the market of the details before this Wednesday. Shares in Galaxy Resources last traded at $0.59.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Financials, gaining 0.85 per cent to 6,476. Shares in BT Investment (ASX:BTT) have risen 1.83 per cent and trading at $9.46. Shares in Credit Corp (ASX:CCP) and Westpac (ASX:WBC) are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is Utilities, falling 1.45 per cent to 7,966. Shares in APA Group (ASX:APA) have fallen 2.24 per cent, trading at $8.30. Shares in Duet Group (ASX:DUE) and AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,224 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.7672.