Midday: Aus shares 0.3% up at noon

Market Reports

Following mixed offshore leads, the Australian share market opened flat and is 0.3 per cent higher at noon, gaining steadily in morning trade with the major banks and miners all in positive territory.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 13 points up at 4,949. On the futures market the SPI is 17 points higher. 
 
Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia has lowered its GDP forecast in its latest statement on monetary policy. The Central Bank expects GDP growth to fall below trend at 2.5 per cent over 2013, before picking up slightly to 3 per cent over next year, reflecting a slightly weaker outlook for mining and non-mining investment. 
 
Company news 
 
Flight Centre Limited (ASX:FLT) plans to expand into Asia and the Middle East and will soon open its first middle east branch in Dubai.
The travel services providers Asia-Middle East network now includes branches in Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China as well as 13 shops in India. Shares in Flight Centre are trading down 0.19 per cent at $31.28. 
 
Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) shares have slumped in morning trade following the ongoing delay in its takeover process with Chinese miner Hanlong. The iron ore explorer had only emerged from a trading halt on Friday and have fallen heavily despite the company saying the Hanlong bid remains its board recommended offer. Shares in Sundance Resources are trading down 11.76 per cent at $0.30. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Healthcare gaining 167 points to 12,318. Shares in Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY) have risen 3.28 per cent and trading at $4.72. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) and Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trusts, falling 12 points to 1,012. Shares in Westfield Retail Trust (ASX:WRT) have fallen 2.97 per cent, trading at $3.10. Shares in CFS Retail Property Trust (ASX:CFX) and Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,668 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.027.