Midday: ASX resumes slide under 5,000

Market Reports

Following yesterday’s 2 per cent plunge Aussie shares have resumed the slide south and retreated 1.4 per cent to sink under 5,000 at noon. A sea of red across global markets overnight has seeped into the local bourse – pushing all sectors but gold into negative territory. Sentiment continues to suffer after China’s weak factory data out yesterday fuelled fears the world’s second largest economy is slowing down. 
 
The falling Australian dollar also remains in focus as more analysts downwardly revise their forecasts. Now having dropped almost 9 per cent this year, Goldman Sachs expects the dollar to slide to 90 US cents within the following year. 
 
Figures

The S&P/ASX 200 index has plunged 72 points and is sitting at 4,991. On the futures market the SPI is 80 points lower. 

Company news

Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) have slumped to the worst performer after James Packer’s Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) offloaded its 10 per cent stake. Mr Packer’s interest in the rival casino company had been seen as protection against his proposed $1 billion six-star hotel and casino at Barangaroo should it not get approved. The decision to sell Echo shows Mr Packer’s confidence his ambitious development plan for Sydney’s second casino will get the green light. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group have slumped 10.03 per cent to $3.10 after earlier hitting an all time low of $2.99.   

A jump in the gold price and license confirmation has given Newcrest Mining Limited’s (ASX:NCM) stock a boost this morning. Shares in Australia’s largest listed gold miner have recovered some ground after confirmation one its New South Wales exploration licenses, currently under review, remains valid. Fellow gold miners Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR), Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN) and Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) have also rebounded from recent steep losses after gold hit a one-week high overnight. Shares in Newcrest Mining have lifted 3.33 per cent to $15.04.  
 
Best and worst performers

All sectors but gold have moved down: The sector with the smallest losses is materials, losing 44 points to 9,437. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) have risen 4.55 per cent and trading at $0.69. Shares in Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) are higher while shares in Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) are lower at noon. 

The worst performing sector is utilities, dropping 139 points to 5,481. Shares in DUET Group (ASX:DUE) have fallen 2.95 per cent, trading at $2.30. Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK) and SP AusNet (ASX:SPN) are also lower. 
  
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,389 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 96.81 US cents.