While the Australian share market opened slightly higher this morning, the local bourse has struggled for direction in the first two hours of trade, tracking flat or 0.04 per cent higher at noon. REITs are leading the charge so far, jumping close to 1.5 per cent. This however is being offset by some substantial losses in the Telcos space, with Telstra (ASX:TLS) falling more than 7.5 per cent. We’ve also seen the Health Care and Consumer Discretionary sectors come off a bit.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 1 point up at 5,931. On the futures market the SPI is 2 points lower.
Japan’s Nikkei is 1.16 per cent lower, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is 0.22 per cent lower and the Shanghai Composite is 0.38 per cent lower.
February finance figures from the ABS have shown total commercial finance commitments rose 1.8% seasonally adjusted. Personal finance commitments fell 3.8 per cent for the month, seasonally adjusted.
CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) says it has become aware that Shire VitroPharma has filed a complaint in the US District Court in Delaware alleging infringement of a patent in connection with the treatment method for Hereditary Angiodema, a rare blood disorder. CSL says it remains highly confident that its compound CSL830 doesn’t infringe on the patent and will vigorously defend any claims. Shares in CSL are trading down 0.66 per cent at $127.62.
Starpharma Holdings Limited (ASX:SPL) says its VivaGel condom has been launched in Canada by Ansell (ASX:ANN). The condoms carry the VivaGel brand and Starpharma will receive royalties based on sales. VivaGel has been proven in laboratory studies to inactivate HIV and HPV. Shares in StarPharma are trading 1.13 per cent higher at $0.67.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is REITs, gaining 1.52 per cent to 1,440. Shares in GPT Group (ASX:GPT) have risen 2.12 per cent and trading at $5.31. Shares in Dexus Property Group and Goodman Group (ASX:GMG) are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is Telcos, falling 6.96 per cent to 1,491. Shares in Telstra (ASX:TLS) have fallen 7.46 per cent, trading at $4.22. Shares in Vocus Communications (ASX:VOC) are lower and TPG Telecom (ASX:TPM) are flat.
URB Investments Limited (ASX:URB) started trading today. The investment entity floated with an issue price of $1.10, opened at $1.10 and is currently trading at $1.12.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,277 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.75.