Midday: US taper talk boosts gold, sinks ASX

Market Reports

Negative global leads pushed the Australian share market down 0.8 per cent at open and stocks have remained deeply in the red. 
 
Talk the US may taper its stimulus program sooner than expected was fuelled by improving economic figures released overnight - The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits has now hit almost a six-year low. 
 
As the Dow Jones Industrial Average booked its biggest loss in almost two months the price of gold climbed to a near two month high and has supported the local gold miners in morning trade.  
 
Elsewhere as earnings reports are released the financials sectors is weighing, dragged down by ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) after posting a rise in cash earnings but cautioning margins could continue to narrow.  
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has sunk 43 points to 5,110. On the futures market the SPI is 46 points down. 
 
Company news
 
Pilbara focussed iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has scored a $US1.15 billion investment from Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics to advance the development of the Fortescue’s Iron Bridge joint venture project with Shanghai Baosteel. 
 
Media group Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) has denied speculation it has decided to sell its hotel website Stayz but revealed it receives approaches for the business from time to time.  
 
Pizza maker Domino's Pizza Enterprises Limited (ASX:DMP) has raised about $137 million from an institutional entitlement offer with a 97 per cent take-up. The retail component of the equity raising will open next week.  
 
Home loan lender RHG Limited (ASX:RHG) has urged caution after receiving a takeover bid from its largest shareholder Cadence Capital Limited (ASX:CDM) and Pepper Australia to compete with a rival offer from a syndicate led by Resimac Limited.  
  
Best and worst performers 
 
All the major sectors are trading in the red: The sector with the smallest losses is telco services losing 2 points to 1,758. Shares in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand (ASX:TEL) have risen 0.25 per cent and trading at $2.00. Shares in iiNet Limited (ASX:IIN) and Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is materials, falling 123 points to 9,761. Shares in Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) have dropped 6.31 per cent, trading at $1.04. Shares in Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) and Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is buying $US1,369 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying 91.51 US cents.