Midday: ASX 0.7% stronger at noon

Market Reports

The Australian share market followed US markets higher to open 2013, as the US senate passed legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. The ASX is 0.7 per cent higher at noon, with major resources stocks posting significant gains in early trade.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 31 points up at 4,680. On the futures market the SPI is 39 points higher.

Economic news

The Australian Industry Group says Manufacturing activity contracted for a tenth consecutive month in December. The AIG Performance of Manufacturing Index was 44.3 for the month, below the 50 mark which indicates contraction.

Company news

Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) chief Nev Power says the current iron ore price rally is unlikely to continue, warning against further price fluctuations and short-term volatility. According to News Corp reports Mr Power believes a supply shortage caused by production shortfalls, alongside China’s growth agenda, had driven prices higher. Shares in Fortescue Metals Group are trading up 1.51 per cent at $4.72.

Hansen Technologies Limited (ASX:HSN) has acquired the Pay TV billing and customer care product, or ICC, division of global pay media company Irdeto. Hansen says following integration, ICC is expected to represent 25 per cent of total revenues. The acquisition is being funded entirely from Hansen’s existing internal cash resources. Shares in Hansen Technologies are trading up 4.07 per cent at $0.90.
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Materials gaining 114 points to 10,715. Shares in Mirabela Nickel Limited (ASX:MBN) have risen 9.38 per cent and trading at $0.53. Shares in Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG) and Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) are also stronger.

The worst performing sector is Health Care, falling 66 points to 11,567. Shares in Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB) have fallen 1.70 per cent, trading at $5.21. Shares in Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY) and CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) are also lower.

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,671 an ounce and

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.039.