Australian shares ignored a strong lead from Wall Street to open lower with strength in the banks helping edge the market into positive territory.
At noon, the market is 0.07 of a per cent higher.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 3.5 points up at 5,348. On the futures market the SPI is 1 points lower.
The Westpac Melbourne Institute Leading Index which indicates the likely pace of economic growth three to nine months into the future fell from 0.53 per cent in January to –0.19 per cent in February, continuing a sharp loss of momentum since late 2013. The February result marks the first sub-trend reading since December 2012.
The bank said consumer confidence, as well as business investment and confidence are restraining the pace of recovery, though they do not see the emerging economic profile as forcing the RBA’s hand on interest rate changes.
Shares in Bionomics Limited (ASX:BNO)
have plunged over 26 per cent in morning trade after it released results of Phase I trials of its cancer drug BNC105.
The developer of treatments for cancer and diseases of the central nervous system said this morning that there is clear support for commencing Phase II of the BNC105 trial, however investors found the results fell short of earlier hopes for the drug. Shares in Bionomics Limited are trading down 27.7 per cent at $0.54.
Cobar Consolidated Resources Limited (ASX:CCU)
has been suspended from official quotation and entered voluntary administration after failing to raise $8 million to meet debt obligations. The company had been in a trading halt since Monday.
The Company has over 900 square kilometres of tenement interests on the western margin of the Cobar basin in western New South Wales. The Company is developing the Wonawinta silver project and the McKinnons gold deposit, 37 kilometres southwest of Cobar.
Cobar Consolidated had booked a first half loss of $1.6 million for the FY2014. Shares in Cobar Consolidated Resources last traded at $0.06.
The best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Consumer Discretionary gaining 5 points to 1,848. Shares in Wotif.com Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF)
have risen 15.16 per cent and trading at $2.81. Shares in REA Group Limited (ASX:REA)
and Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trusts, falling 3.5 points to 1,009. Shares in Stockland Corporation Limited (ASX:SGP)
have fallen 2.86 per cent, trading at $3.74. Shares in Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR)
and BWP Trust (ASX:BWP)
are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,359 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9124.