Soft momentum at midday: Aus shares 0.05% higher at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Ellerm

Following positive leads, the Australian share market opened higher and is now tracking 0.05 per cent up at noon. Materials and Energy sectors are buoying the market, while Health Care, Utilities and Consumer Staples are struggling to find their footing.

Piquing many retail investors interest this morning was news retail giant Westfield (ASX:WFD) had entered into a trading halt, just after 10am. The company has indicated it is in discussions in relation to a significant corporate transaction. Investors will have to wait until Thursday the 14th of December at the latest to learn more.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 3 points up at 6001.

On the futures market the SPI is 4 points higher.

Economic news

National Australia Bank's index of business conditions fell 9 points to +12 in November, undoing October’s gains. Business confidence also fell 3 points to 6.

Company news

ELMO Software Limited (ASX:ELO) has announced it will acquire Sky Payroll, a SaaS, cloud-based specialist payroll software solution. The HR software company will pay a total consideration of $1.4M for the business, funding the purchase through a mixture of cash and scrip. The business has estimated the market opportunity made available by the acquisition is approximately $600M, and is a logical and complementary extension of ELMO’s existing product suite. Shares in ELMO Software Limited (ASX:ELO) are trading 2.78 per cent up at $3.70.

Salmat Limited (ASX:SLM) has announced it has appointed Rebecca Lowde as the company’s new CEO. Ms Lowde had served as the acting CEO of the marketing services business since the departure of Craig Dower at the end of May this year. Ms Lowde has been with the business since 2014, joining originally as Chief Financial Officer. Shares in Salmat Limited (ASX:SLM) are trading flat at $0.45.

Bell Financial Group (ASX:BFG) has announced UBS will sell its 15.8 per cent shareholding, with Bell Potter Securities acting as the broker for the sale. Shares in Bell Financial Group (ASX:BFG) are trading down 5.48 per cent at $0.69.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Energy, gaining 0.7 per cent to 10,483. Shares in Washington H Soul Pattinson & Company Limited (ASX:SOL) have risen 1.36 per cent and trading at $17.12. Shares in Oilsearch Limited (ASX:OSH) and Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) are also stronger.

The worst performing sector is Utilities falling 1.13 per cent to 8,661. Shares in Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN) have fallen 2.19 per cent, trading at $0.67. Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGL) and APA Group (ASX:APA) are also lower.

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,244 an ounce and one Australian dollar is buying US$75.23 cents.

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