Midday: Aus shares follow Wall Street higher

Market Reports

After record highs on Wall Street the Australian share market jumped higher at open and is 0.4 per cent stronger at noon
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 21 points up at 4,971. On the futures market the SPI is 20 points higher. 
 
Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia says in its half year financial stability review that exposure of Australian-owned banks was $112 billion in December last year, a $27 billion increase from five years earlier. The increase was primarily accounted for by the big four banks, with the RBA saying growth in Australian bank activity is likely to continue over the longer term as a growth in trade continues. 
 
Company news 
 
QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE) is committed to a major transformation plan and says it is on track to meet its financial targets this year. Chairperson Belinda Hutchinson told shareholders that QBE is at a stage in the global economic and insurance market cycle where there are encouraging signs of increasing premium rates, indications of positive economic growth in most of its key markets and improving investment markets. Shares in QBE are trading up 3.17 per cent at $13.35. 
 
Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC) shares entered a trading halt this morning ahead of the oil and gas explorer announcing a proposed capital raising. Linc requested for the halt to remain in place until next Tuesday, with various media reports speculating a capital raising of between $200-$250 million is set to be announced. Shares in Linc Energy are trading steady at $2.67. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Industrials gaining 35 points to 3,838. Shares in Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG) have risen 2.83 per cent and trading at $2.37. Shares in NRW Holdings Limited (ASX:NWH) and ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Utilities, falling 27 points to 5,484. Shares in Energy World Corporation Limited (ASX:EWC) have fallen 1.35 per cent, trading at $0.36. Shares in Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX:SKI) and AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,598 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.047.

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