Midday: ASX weighed by QBE downgrade

Market Reports

 
Left with a lack of clear direction after mixed trading in global markets overnight, the Australian share market opened lower and has since crossed slightly into positive territory trading 0.04 per cent up at noon. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 4 points up at 5,582. On the futures market the SPI is 5 points higher. 
 
Economic news

The Housing Industry Association says new home sales in June rose by 1.2 per cent for the month, and lifted 2.0 per cent in the June quarter. Multi-units were the biggest driver, surging 15.9 per cent. Detached house sales dropped 1 per cent for the month. 
 
ANZ Roy-Morgan weekly consumer confidence report showed another lift this week, rising 2.4 per cent to 116.2. The gain means the index has regained all of its losses following the May federal budget. 
 
Company news
 
UXC Limited (ASX:UXC) today announced that it is expecting a substantially lower net debt position than previously forecast. The information technology company says cash payments from successfully delivered milestones on key projects and improvement in on-time cash receipts has lifted net debt from $34 million to $4.4 million. The company also said it expects revenue for financial year 2014 to be between $640 million to $650 million with net earnings of between $35.2 million and $37 million. It’s a bit of good news for the company which has seen its share price slashed this year. After starting the year above $1.05 shares in UXC are today trading 8.67 per cent higher at $0.82. 
 
Poseidon Nickel Limited (ASX:POS) says it’s on track to integrate its acquisition of the Black Swan nickel project with capital savings of $200 million and first production possible a year ahead of schedule.  Poseidon agreed to pay Russian miner Norilsk $1.5 million for the Black Swan project in WA. The acquisition came with an upgraded processing plant which was put into care and maintenance following the GFC. Poseidon has the choice to restart the plant or relocate it to its Mt Windarra site to process the ore there. The nickel explorer is undergoing a review to see which option is a better but the acquisition has catapulted Poseidon from explorer to producer status well ahead of schedule. Shares in Poseidon are trading up 6.98 per cent at $0.23. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is staples, gaining 0.8 per cent to 10,075. Shares in Metcash have risen 1.41 per cent and are trading at $2.87. Shares in Treasury Wines Estates and Woolworths are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is financials, falling 0.1 per cent to 6,220. Shares in QBE Insurance have fallen 11.35 per cent, trading at $10.54 after announcing a profit downgrade. Shares in OzForex Group and Challenger are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,305 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 94.08US cents.