Midday: ASX sinks as gold, tech & health stocks drop

Market Reports

The Australian share market has sunk into a sea of red and is trading almost 1 per cent down after Wall Street plunged overnight. The Dow dropped more than 1 per cent, the S&P 500 was fell 2 per cent and the Nasdaq retreated 3 per cent by Thursday’s close. Local stocks have followed suit with all sectors trading lower, pulled down by steep losses among, gold, tech and health care stocks.  
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has tumbled 46 points to hit 5,435 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 48 points lower. 
 
Company news 
 
Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) have bounced after confirming the appointment of its chief and providing a positive update on trading. The provider of leisure and entertainment services reports March quarter revenue grew 5.7 per cent with growth in Australia occurring on the back of gaming revenues from Sydney and Queensland. The company has also advised its new Managing Director and CEO Matt Bekier will take the reins from today. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group have bounced 11.62 per cent and are trading at $2.69 at noon. 
 
SEEK Limited (ASX:SEK) says it has secured a minority investment in Bangladesh’s leading online employment business. The Australian job classifieds site will invest $US5 million for a 25 per cent stake in the jobs marketplace called Bdjobs.com. SEEK says the investment will give it exposure to a large, early stage and high growth market and the transaction is expected to be immediately earnings per share accretive. Shares in SEEK have slipped 1.79 per cent and are trading at $16.46 at noon. 

Best and worst performers
 
Across the sectors all have plunged into negative territory: The sector with the smallest losses is telco services, losing 2.3 points to 1,777. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) have added 0.2 per cent and trading at $5.09. Shares in Telecom Corp of New Zealand (ASX:TEL) are steady while shares in Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) are lower at noon. 
 
The worst performing major sector is health care, falling 232 points to 14,309. Shares in Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) have fallen 2.34 per cent, trading at $57.09. Shares in Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) and Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,320.37 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar has dipped below yesterday’s high above $US0.94 and is now buying $US0.9381.