Midday: Aus shares higher on Wall Street rally

Market Reports

Following a rally on Wall Street overnight, the Australian share market opened higher and continued into positive territory on the back of strength in bluechips to be 0.7 of a per cent up at noon. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 35 points higher at 5,353. On the futures market the SPI is 32 points higher. 
 
Economic news

ABS International merchandise imports for February show imports were $20.5 billion, a fall of $1.1 billion, or 5 per cent on January. Preliminary analysis shows that imports on a balance of payments basis fell 7 per cent to $1.6 billion between January and February 2014.
 
Company news
 
Shares in Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) rose almost one per cent this morning as reports circulated the investment bank has agreed to sell its private equity funds management division to the unit's three managers. 
 
Reports in this morning's media said the company has offloaded Macquarie Investment Management Private Markets, which has funds of around A$5 billion largely invested in and around Australia, to managers Michael Lukin, Andrew Savage and Shaw Ng. The company will be renamed ROC Equity Partners.
 
Analysts have commented that large investment banks like Macquarie are shifting away from riskier exposures to focus on more reliable, annuities-style investments. Shares in Macquarie Group are trading up 0.81 per cent at $54.85. 
 
Real Estate Corp Limited (ASX:RNC) has received a final takeover offer of 0.37 cents a share from Little Group. Little Group says the offer for the retail property manager is its best and final and is unconditional apart from the condition that Little Group obtains obtains a relevant interest in at least 90 per cent of Real Estate Corp shares.

Real Estate Corp manages over $10 billion of residential and commercial property assets across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.  Shares in Real Estate Corp are trading flat at $0.36. 
  
The best and worst performers

All major sectors are trading higher at noon. The best performing sector is Materials despite the gold miners suffering as investors take on more risk. Materials gained 99 points this morning to be at 10,003. Shares in Sirius Resources (ASX:SIR) have risen 6.04 per cent and trading at $2.81. Shares in PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA) and Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA) are also stronger. 
 
The sector with the smallest gains is Utilities, 3.4 points up at 5,525. Shares in SP AusNet (ASX:SPN) have fallen 0.77 per cent, trading at $1.28. Shares in Envestra Limited (ASX:ENV) and APA Group (ASX:APA) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,368 an ounce.

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9091.