Midday: ASX 0.4% down at noon

Market Reports

With US markets falling on weak housing data the local market saw a flat start and quickly retreated below the red to be trading 0.4 per cent down at midday, with materials propping things up at the moment. The Aussie dollar fell below 92 US cents on the release of weaker than expected ABS building approvals data.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 17 points down at 5,030. On the futures market the SPI is 22 points lower. 
 
Economic news
 
Approvals for the construction of new homes fell 6.9 per cent across Australia in June, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics building approvals data. Economists had forecast a rise of two per cent. A total of 12,778 new homes were approved in the month, down slightly from 13,727 approvals in May. Over the year to June, building approvals were down 13.0 per cent. 
 
Company news 
 
Beach Energy Limited (ASX:BPT) lifted its full year oil and gas revenue to $698.2 million and flagged increased production in the coming year. 
Beach says continued site exploration, appraisal and development would boost production to between 8.7 and 8.9 million barrels in fiscal 2014. Shares in Beach energy are trading up 1.32 per cent at $1.35. 
 
Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) Asia, India and Offshore group has secured a $2.8 billion contract to build a luxury hotel resort in Macau, the world’s biggest gaming hub. The contract is the largest won by the offshore group to date, and the project is expected to be complete by early 2016. Shares in Leighton are trading up 2.76 per cent at $16.75. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Materials gaining 48 points to 9,280. Shares in Sirius Resources N.L.(ASX:SIR) have risen 7.08 per cent and are trading at $2.57. Shares in Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) and Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Consumer staples, falling 172 points to 9,638. Shares in Metcash Limited (ASX:MTS) have fallen 4.09 per cent, trading at $3.52. Shares in Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE) and Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,329 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.9164.