Midday: ASX gains & inflation grows

Market Reports

Following positive leads, the Australian share market opened higher and is 0.8 per cent up at noon.
 
The local bourse has retreated slightly from an early spike that came on the back of positive growth data out of China and speculation over monetary stimulus from the European Central Bank.
 
Materials was the best performing sector this morning with BHP Billiton making gains on the back of strong production figures.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 indexis 41 points up at 5,366. On the futures market the SPI is 39 points higher.
 
Economic news

The ABS has released inflation figures for the three months to September showing a rise of 0.5 per cent for the quarter to bring the annualised figure to September up to 2.3 per cent which sits between the Reserve Bank’s target band of 2-3 per cent.
 
The Westpac Bank - Melbourne Institute has shown a dip in its Leading Indexes of Economic Activity. The index predicts the pace of economic growth in forthcoming months and the read for September is below trend, dropping to -1.16 per cent.
 
Company news
 
Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) has made a statement clarifying that it has no plans to sell budget retailer BIG W. The supermarket giant says the market rumour is incorrect, and the BIG W and EziBuy brands are important to its growth strategy. Shares in Woolworths are trading down 0.26 per cent at $34.64. 
 
Wotif.com Holdings Limited (ASX:WTF) has announced further delays in its acquisition by Expedia Group (NASDAQ:EXPE) with a New Zealand regulator requesting further information. The hotel reservation website says the New Zealand Commerce Commission is focussed on competitive constraints issues in filing further requests. The regulator has requested the information by 28 October and should be able to offer a decision on the 5 November. Shares in Wotif are trading down0.33 per cent at $3.00
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is materials, gaining 1.4 per cent to 9,343. Shares in Nufarm Limited (ASX:NUF) have risen 3.4 per cent and trading at $4.86. Shares in James Hardie Industries plc (ASX:JHX) and Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) are also stronger.
 
The worst performing sector is utilities, falling 0.2 per cent to 5,848. Shares in AusNet Services (ASX:AST)have fallen 1.31 per cent, trading at $1.32. Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK) and Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX:SKI) are also lower.
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,248 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8784.