Midday: Aus shares buoyed by fresh US records

Market Reports

The Australian share market has continued Decembers’ upward momentum and moved higher in morning trade after Wall Street hit fresh records overnight. Returning from two days of public holidays local investors have been encouraged by better than expected data from the US Labor Department released overnight.
 
Stronger commodity prices have boosted the miners to the top performers and strength in the financial sector is also supporting the local bourse. The retailers also remain in focus with the National Retailers’ Association predicting yesterday’s Boxing Day sales could have exceeded $1.9 billion - yet department store retailer Myer Holdings Limited (ASX:MYR) is still experiencing website failure. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has risen 15 points and is sitting at 5,342. On the futures market the SPI is 10 points higher. 
 
Company news
 
Takeover target Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. (ASX:WCB) is reportedly getting eyed up by Chinese investors. China Investment Corporation is reportedly supporting a Chinese food company which may be considering launching a bid for the Victorian dairy producer. Reports speculate Warrnambool’s shareholder Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) could be tempted to sell part of its stake after it withdrew its own takeover bid last week. Shares in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory have firmed 0.11 per cent and are trading at $9.26. 
 
Shares in Phoenix Gold Limited (ASX:PXG) have jumped after the gold miner announced its total reserves have grow beyond 1 million ounces. The company has an extensive land holding northwest of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and has today flagged plans to monetise its more developed projects next year. Managing Director Jon Price says Phoenix will also continue to explore and grow the next stages at its flagship Castle Hill project to extend the mine life. Shares in Phoenix Gold have jumped 12.5 per cent and are trading at $0.18. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector is materials advancing 58 points to 10,106. Shares in Alacer Gold Corp (ASX:AQG) have risen 5.14 per cent and trading at $2.25. Shares in Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) and Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is energy, falling 23 points to 13,608. Shares in Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX:DLS) have dropped 2.9 per cent, trading at $1.34. Shares in Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) and Horizon Oil Limited (ASX:HZN) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,209 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8888.