Midday: Aus shares remain in the red

Market Reports

After mixed offshore leads the Australian share market opened in negative territory. Stocks have now come off the mornings lows as investors absorb positive domestic consumer confidence data. Weakness remains in the mining and energy sectors following yesterday’s report of soft Chinese import demand.

The S&P/ASX 200 index has lost 12 points and is sitting at 4,086. On the futures market the SPI is currently 13 point lower.

Economic news

Australian consumer confidence has increased for the third straight month following two straight months of rate cuts. According to Westpac Banking Corporation Limited (ASX:WBC) and the Melbourne Institute their Index of Consumer Sentiment, a poll of 1,200 people, rose by 3.7 per cent to 99.1 in July from 95.6 in the month before. Westpac’s chief economist Bill Evans warned that the result is far from convincing and should not be interpreted that confidence will steadily return to more normal levels over the months ahead, with the bank maintaining interest rates in Australia are still too high.

Company news

Investment company Mariner Corporation Limited (ASX:MCX) has lashed out at its takeover target Austock Group Limited (ASX:ACK) after Austock announced earlier this week it will sell Austock Property Funds Management and related entities to Folkestone Limited (ASX:FLK). Mariner has slammed the proposed deal as a blatant attempt by Austock’s board to block its takeover bid. As a result Mariner will apply to the Takeovers Panel to have this conduct declared as “unacceptable circumstance” as a company cannot sell its principle business during a takeover bid. Shares in Austock Group have fallen 4.17 per cent and are trading at $0.12.

Shares in Peak Resources Limited (ASX:PEK) have risen following the African and Australian focussed miner’s latest update on its Ngualla Rare Earth Project in Tanzania. The company’s Managing Director says the high recoveries achieved are particularly promising and the results support expectations that Ngualla will be a low cost mine. Peak expects results from additional studies by the end of the third quarter. Ngualla is understood to be the fifth largest rare earth deposit in the world outside of China. Shares in Peak Resources have risen 6.82 per cent and are trading at $0.24.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Telco Services gaining 18 points to 1,321. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) have risen 1.31 per cent and trading at $3.86. Shares in Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) are higher while shares in M2 Telecommunications Group Limited (ASX:MTU) are slightly lower.

The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 131 points to 11,663. Shares in Senex Energy Limited (ASX:SXY) have fallen 4.14 per cent, trading at $0.70. Shares in Beach Energy Limited (ASX:BPT) and Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) are also lower.
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,574 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.019.