Midday: Banks and miners pull share market down

Market Reports

The Australian share market was trading lower at midday after opening flat this morning. The Big Four banks were all lower at noon despite recording modest early gains. The major miners were all weaker as well as the floods across Queensland are expected to feed through commodity prices to deliver an inflationary shock to the system.

The S&P/ASX200 index has lost 13 points and is 4,788 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 18 points lower.

Company news: AMP Ltd’s (ASX:AMP) friendly $13 billion takeover of rival AXA Asia Pacific (ASX:AXA) has been given a boost after an independent expert concluded the deal was fair and reasonable to shareholders. Independent expert Grant Samuel says “in the absence of a superior proposal, the proposed merger is in the best interests of AXA’s minority shareholders.” AXA says the deal will be put to a shareholder vote on March 2, with a court hearing on March 7 and a completion date of the deal set for March 8. Shares in AMP Ltd are 0.19 per cent higher at $5.19.

Cooper Energy Ltd (ASX:COE) says it has suspended drilling operations at its jointly-owned well in Tunisia due to political unrest in the country. The oil and gas explorer says the declaration of a state of emergency in the country forced the suspension of work on the Menzel Horr-1 well in which it holds an 85 per cent stake, with the remaining 15 per cent held by Jacka Resources Ltd (ASX:JKA). The company has also declared force majeure and says drilling will resume as soon as normal operating conditions resume. Shares in Cooper Energy are 6.98 per cent lower at $0.40.

Market indices: The best performing sector is Consumer Staples with the index lifting 35 points to 7,882. Shares in Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) have lifted 1.05 per cent to $27.92. Shares in Metcash Ltd (ASX:MTS) and Coca Cola Amatil Ltd (ASX:CCL) have also lifted at noon. The worst performing sector at midday is Materials down by 114 to 14,094. Shares in Argonaut Resources (ASX:ARE) have eased 29.73 per cent and are $0.13. Shares in BCD Resources NL (ASX:BCD) and Sundance Resources Ltd (ASX:SDL) have also dropped at midday.

New Zealand: The NZSX50 has lost 4 points at noon. Taking a look at the top 4 stocks by turnover, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand is at the top of the list with stock 0.44 per cent lower at $2.27; followed by ANZ, Westpac and Fletcher Building Group.

Gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $US1,363 an ounce and the Aussie dollar is buying 99.07 US cents.

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