Midday: ASX up despite soft housing data

Market Reports

The Australian share market opened higher following strong offshore leads and a jump in commodity prices. The ASX continues to trade in positive territory despite disappointing housing data released by the ABS.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 3 points up at 4,329. On the futures market the SPI is steady at noon.
 
Economic news 

The total number of home loans fell 1 per cent in July according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Economists were expecting figures to remain steady. Total housing finance dropped 1.8 per cent for the month. 
 
Company news

The tense battle between Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) and DuluxGroup Limited (ASX:DLX) continues. The Alesco board maintains the takeover bid is materially inadequate and undervalues the company. Alesco has set up a Shareholder Acceptance Facility today which provides terms for shareholders who wish to accept the DuluxGroup offer and receive an additional dividend of up to 27 cents. DuluxGroup’s $210 million bid has an implied value of $2.05 cents per Alesco share and has been extended to October 2 2012. Shares in Alesco are trading up 0.26 per cent at $1.90. 

Quickflix Limited (ASX:QFX) says it has secured new pay-per-view content deals with The Walt Disney Company Australia and Warner Bros Entertainment Australia. Latest release movie titles will be streamed via its “pay per play” service starting  from the end of the month in Australia and New Zealand.Shares in Quickflix are trading up 1.69 per cent at $0.06.
 
Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector is materials gaining 217points to 9,656. Shares in PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA) have risen 8.19 per cent and trading at $3.04. Shares in Gindalbie Metals and Atlas Iron are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is consumer staples, falling 148 points to 8,581 Shares in Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) have fallen 3.47 per cent, trading at $29.21. Shares in Goodman Fielder and Wesfarmers are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar 

Gold is trading at $US1,741 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.037.