Midday: Aus shares hit fresh highs

Market Reports

The Australian share market has hit fresh 15 month highs and is 1.1 per cent higher at noon with the miners leading stocks higher ahead of the release of Chinese GDP figures. The market was boosted at open by strong housing data from the US and positive leads out of Europe ahead of an EU leaders meeting.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 48 points up at 4,576. On the futures market the SPI is 41 points higher.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released figures on International merchandise imports, revealing a 3 per cent drop in imports for September, totalling $20.6 billion.

Company news

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) has achieved record third quarter production and sales revenue. The oil and gas company recorded a 32 per cent increase in production from the previous quarter, alongside sales revenue of $US1.8 million. Woodside attributed its performance to the continued high reliability of its Pluto LNG project, and has increased its full year target production range. Shares in Woodside are trading up 3.98 per cent at $35.76.

Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) has lifted its total sales by 4.3 per cent in the first quarter, driven by increased market share in its food and liquor divisions.
CEO Grant O’Brien says the momentum Woolworths created towards the end of last year has continued through the first quarter. Mr O’Brien says although the company has made progress against its strategic priorities, there is still work to be done in its business transformation programs. Shares in Woolworths are trading down 0.07 per cent at $29.14.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Materials gaining 234 points to 10,348. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) have risen 14.29 per cent and trading at $0.76. Shares in Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG) and Alumina Limited (ASX:AWC) are also performing stronger so far today.

The worst performing sector is Healthcare, the only sector that is lower so far today, falling 22 points to 10,806. Shares in Acrux Limited (ASX:ACR) have fallen 1.67 per cent, trading at $3.54. Shares in Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX:SHL) are down while  CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) share are trading slightly higher at noon.
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,750 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.037.