Midday: Aus shares leap into 2014

Market Reports

Following a gain of 15.1 per cent in 2013 the Australian share market has leapt almost 0.5 per cent into the new trading year. Local traders have been supported by Wall Street’s record run over 2013 with all US indexes rising ahead of the New Years public holiday. 
 
Across the board the sectors are all buoyant with materials charging to the top after the sector received the wooden spoon as last year’s worst performer. Gold stocks are also back in favour with the sub-index gaining 2 per cent as bargain hunters search around for battered stocks. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has climbed 26 points and is sitting at 5,378. On the futures market the SPI is 32 points higher. 
 
Economic news 
 
Australian manufacturing continued to soften at the end of 2013. The Australian Industry Group’s Performance of Manufacturing Index fell to 47.6 points in December, from 47.7 the month before and again remaining under the 50-point level indicating the sector is contracting. 
 
Property prices rose at the quickest pace in four years over 2013. It was the biggest annual gain since 2009 when values jumped 13.7 per cent. RP Data-Rismark’s Home Value Index shows home values in capital cities rose 9.8 per cent over 2013 with the median dwelling price coming in at $540,000. The gains were driven by Sydney’s property market and on the back of record low interest rates.  
 
Company news
 
Shares in Buccaneer Energy Limited (ASX:BCC) have taken a tumble after sealing deals to sell certain assets and lower operating expenses. The Alaska-focused energy explorer has inked agreements for $US65 million of asset sales including its 25 per cent stake in the Cosmopolitan oil and gas project in Alaska and a 50 per cent equity interest in Kenai Offshore Ventures. Buccaneer Energy has also arranged debt financing and flagged plans for a $60 million equity raising to firm up its balance sheet. Shares in Buccaneer Energy have dropped 17.39 per cent after exiting from a trading halt and are trading at $0.02 at midday. 
 
Shares in Viento Group Limited (ASX:VIE) have jumped after announcing its latest acquisition to the market. The equipment hire company has inked a deal to buy HVLV Pty Ltd which is a specialist manufacturer of transportable switchrooms used for mining, oil and gas, and industrial projects. Viento will purchase all of the issued securities of HVLV based on an enterprise value of $21.3 million. Shares in Viento Group have risen 5.88 per cent and are trading at $0.36 at midday.  
 
Best and worst performers 

All major sector are making gains: The best performing sector is materials advancing 78 points to 10,288. Shares in last year’s worst performing stock Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR) have jumped 3.74 per cent and trading at $0.56. Shares in Sirius Resources N.L. (ASX:SIR) and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) are also stronger. 
 
The sector with the smallest gains real estate investment trusts, adding 7 points to 992. Shares in Federation Centres Limited (ASX:FDC) have put on 0.21 per cent, trading at $2.35. Shares in Westfield Group (ASX:WDC) and Commonwealth Property Office Fund (ASX:CPA) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
After plunging 28 per cent over 2013 the price of gold firmed overnight and is now buying $US1,205 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8905.