Midday: Aus shares hit 21 month high

Market Reports

Despite mixed offshore leads, the Australian share market opened at a 21 month high and is 0.8 per cent up at noon, with gains among the major banks offsetting sharp falls in insurance stocks as investor concerns turn toward the Queensland and New South Wales flood crisis. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 38 points up at 4,873. On the futures market the SPI is 6 points higher. 
 
Company news 
 
Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) shares have entered a trading halt ahead of an announcement regarding its touted acquisition by Chinese company Hanlong Mining. Sundance says it will make an announcement regarding the funding commitments by Hanlong under the existing scheme agreement between the companies. Shares in Sundance Resources last traded at $0.34. 
 
Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) has reported falls in both production and sales for the 2012 full year and expects its cash costs to be at the high end of its earlier advised guidance. The company says second half costs have been higher than the first half due to an increased level of work-over activity and one off costs associated with severe weather damage repairs and an oil sheen investigation. Shares in Oil Search are trading up 1.97 per cent at $7.25. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Healthcare gaining 242 points to 12,076. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) have risen 2.75 per cent and trading at $54.51. Shares in Ansell Limited (ASX:ANN) and Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 11 points to 10,665. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) have fallen 6.90 per cent, trading at $1.08. Shares in Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,656 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.043.