Midday: ASX flat ahead of Fed outcome

Market Reports

The Australian share market started the day lower and is trading flat at noon as investors tread water ahead of the outcome of the US Federal Reserve’s two day meeting. Utilities are clawing out some gains at this stage, while energy and materials stocks are dragging. The gold price has hit its lowest level in six weeks on speculation the US Fed will cut its monthly asset purchases, while the Westpac-Melbourne Institute's leading index says economic growth is expecting to regain momentum soon. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 7 points down at 5,244. On the futures market the SPI is 10 points lower.  
 
Economic news 
 
The Westpac Melbourne Institute Leading Index was 4.1 per cent in July, above its long-term trend of 2.9 per cent.  The figure is higher than last month's print of 3.4 per cent. 
 
Company news 
 
Sundance Energy Australia Limited (ASX:SEA) has announced a material uplift in its reserve base following an independent evaluation.
Results included significant increases across the companies Eagle Ford assets underlying South Texas, one of the USA’s most actively drilled oil and gas targets. Sundance has just announced to market that it has closed production at its Wattenberg field operation in Colorado due to the massive flooding occurring there. Shares in Sundance Energy are trading up 0.47 per cent at $1.07. 
 
Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) says it shipped a record 960 thousand tonnes of iron ore in August, supported by record production across mining, processing and haulage. Atlas says combined mine production, processing and haulage across its substantial Pilbara resource is on track to ship up to 2.4 million tonnes for the September quarter. Shares in Atlas Iron are trading down 1.97 per cent at $0.87. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Utilities gaining 14 points to 5,415. Shares in Energy World Corporation Limited (ASX:EWC) have risen 3.89 per cent and trading at $0.47. Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK) and Envestra Limited (ASX:ENV) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 103 points to 13,967. Shares in Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN) have fallen 3.67 per cent, trading at $0.53. Shares in Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC) and Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,293 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.9347.

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