Midday: Floods continue to weigh on share market

Market Reports

The Australian share market was weaker at midday after Wall Street posted modest declines on the back of weaker-than-expected jobs data. Shares are also lower as the extensive flooding in Queensland weighs on the miners and insurers. Heavyweight resources stocks such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were lower. All the major banks also lost ground at midday.

The S&P/ASX200 index has dropped 7 points and is 4,698 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 6 points lower.

Company news: Drug developer Biota Holdings Ltd (ASX:BTA) has told the Australian Securities Exchange that it has no information to explain the recent jump in its share price. The company did say that there has been significant press coverage, particularly in the United Kingdom, about resurgent H1N1 influenza. Biota earns royalties from the sale of its influenza drugs, Relenza and Inavir and is likely to be the beneficiary of increased sales of the drugs. Shares in Biota Holdings are 2.18 per cent lower at $1.12.

Equinox Minerals Ltd (ASX:EQN) has produced close to 34,000 tonnes of copper at its Lumwana Copper Mine in Zambia during the fourth quarter of the 2010 calendar year, bringing the company’s total copper production to 146,690 tonnes. The firm’s copper production fell in the fourth quarter in accordance with the mine plan. Equinox says it plans to produce 145,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2011. Shares in Equinox are 1.15 per cent higher at $6.15.

Market indices: The best performing sector is Industrials with the index 14 rising points to 3,756. Shares in Qantas have added 3.66 per cent to $2.55. Shares in Virgin Blue and CSR Ltd have also risen at noon. The worst performing sector at midday is Financials excluding Real Estate Investment Trust, dropping 19 points to 5,002. Shares in Lend Lease have eased 1.64 per cent and are $8.42. Shares in Insurance Australia Group and Challenger Financial Services have also dropped at midday.

New Zealand: The NZSX50 is 4 points lower. Taking a look at the top 4 stocks by turnover, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand is at the top of the list with stock 0.46 per cent lower at $2.17; followed Fletcher Building Group, Goodman Fielder and ANZ.

Gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $US1,370 an ounce and the Aussie dollar is buying 99.81 US cents.

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