Midday: Aus shares flat

Market Reports

Strong leads from Wall Street had the Australian share market opening higher this morning before softness in some parts of Woolworths results and another weak airline result from Virgin lead the market to be flat at noon. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.1 of a point up at 5,412. On the futures market the SPI is flat at noon. 
 
Economic news

The RBA’s housing, personal and business credit figures rose 4.1 per cent in the year to January of 2014, up 0.5 of a per cent on a year ago. Housing finance lead the way with a 5.6 per cent growth, with business credit growth at 2 per cent and personal finance at 1 per cent, year on year.
 
Company news

Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) CEO David Thodey has flagged it will compete with the NBN on high speed broadband delivery. 
 
Thodey said in this morning’s press that TELSTRA had already commenced testing on its own fibre to the basement (FTTB) installations of high speed broadband. TPG Telecom had already announced it would be producing a Fibre-to-the-Basement product to compete with the NBN for urban customers. 
 
Thodey also flagged the possibility of taking the federal government to court if it is forced to share its mobile network with rival players. Shares in Telstra are trading up 0.2 per cent at $5.08. 
 
Chairman of Ramsay Health Care, Paul Ramsay is selling out of his 30 per cent holding in regional free-to-air television broadcaster Prime Media Group Limited (ASX:PRT), in a block trade worth $96 million. Prime’s other major shareholder Seven Group Holdings not expected to increase its stake. 
 
A spokesman for Mr Ramsay said he would like to concentrate more of his time on Ramsay Group’s expanding international footprint and his many philanthropic efforts. Mr Ramsay will stay on as Chairman of Prime Media for the immediate future.
 
Mr Ramsay is selling his holding in Prime at a 9.4 per cent discount to the last closing price of 96¢. Shares in Prime Media are trading down 2.62 per cent at $0.93. 
 
The best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Materials gaining 67 points to 10,525. Shares in James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX) have risen 7.1 per cent and trading at $14.64. Shares in Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Consumer Staples, falling 84 points to 9,971. Shares in Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE) have fallen 2.70 per cent, trading at $3.97. Shares in Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) are also down, while and Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) has crept into positive territory. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,332 an ounce.

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8958.