Midday: Aus shares fall after weak leads

Market Reports

Aussie shares has fallen 0.6 per cent at noon, following on from weak overseas leads. Ongoing unrest in the Middle East continues to weigh on the market, prompting a broad sell off in the banks and miners. Several companies are also trading ex-dividend today. 

The S&P/ASX200 index has lost 41points and is 4,823 at noon. On the futures market the SPI down 38 points.

Economic news: The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association has reported that the performance of construction index lifted 4.4 points to 44.6 in February. Any read under 50 points represents a contraction in activity. The level of construction activity in Australia has not expanded since May last year.

Company news: Shares in Carsales.com Ltd (ASX:CRZ) have fallen, following news that private equity owned Nine Entertainment has offloaded its 49.1 per cent stake in the company for $565 million. Nine's subsidiary ACP Magazines says it has sold the stake to a broad range of institutional and sophisticated investors at a price of $4.92 per share, a 6 per cent discount to the company's last traded price. Carsales.com has also today announced that three of its non-executive directors have resigned from the board, but confirmed that the exit of Nine Entertainment will have no impact on the day-to-day operations of the company. Shares in Carsales.com have dropped 3.82 per cent at noon and trading at $5.04.

Allied Gold Ltd (ASX:ALD) has cautioned that third quarter production is likely to fall at the lower end of its guidance, at its wholly-owned Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea. However, gold sales could reach the upper end of the guidance range. Executive Chairman Mark Caruso says Simberi had a great December quarter, and while the company is aiming to repeat it, the reality is that it will fall short. Allied Gold has confirmed that its full year production guidance remains unchanged at 72,000 ounces. Shares in Allied Gold have lifted 1.54 per cent and are trading at $0.66. 

To the best and worst performers, and all are trading in the red: The sector with the smallest losses is Real Estate Investment Trusts easing 3 points to 882. Shares in ING Industrial Fund have gained 2.88 per cent and are $0.535. Shares in Australand Property Group and Charter Hall Office have also lifted at midday. The worst performing sector is Consumer Staples, falling 87 points to 7,867. Shares in Metcash have dropped 1.21 per cent to $4.07. Shares in Woolworths and Goodman Group have also sagged at midday.

To New Zealand: The NZSX50 has added 14 points. Taking a look at the top four stocks by turnover, Fletcher Building is at the top of the list with stock up 0.45 per cent at $8.85 followed by Telecom Corporation of New Zealand, ANZ and Westpac.

To gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $US1434 an ounce. The Aussie dollar is buying $1.0148 US cents.