Midday: Aus shares follow US lower

Market Reports

Following gains in Europe but losses on Wall street, the Australian share market opened lower and is 0.3 per cent down at noon. 
 
The local bourse retreated further from the 6,000 point mark but an uptick in the oil price is helping energy stocks which were the morning’s best performing major sector.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 19 points down at 5,883. On the futures market the SPI is 13 points lower. 
 
Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown the trade deficit has ballooned to $980 million in January with imports growing faster than exports.

Company news
 
Shares in Impedimed Limited (ASX:IPD) have jumped on news the MD Anderson Cancer Center has joined the L-Dex clinical trial. The bioimpedence research developer says the cancer centre at the University of Texas is one of the top cancer researchers in the US. Principal investigator Dr Sarah DeSnyder says the trial has the potential to improve lymphoedema care and patients’ quality of life. Shares in Impedimed are trading up 1.27 per cent at $0.80 
 
Shares in IMF Bentham Limited (ASX:IMF) have dipped on news it expects it will have to pay $3m in adverse costs and write off almost $15 million after a decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa. The litigation funder says the court upheld the appeal by the defendant in the National Potato case against the earlier successful plaintiff funded by IMF. Shares in IMF are trading down 3.75 per cent at $2.31.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is energy, gaining 0.4 per cent to 11,635. Shares in Horizon Oil Limited (ASX:HZN) have risen 3.85 per cent and trading at $0.14. Shares in AWE Limited (ASX:AWE) and Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is real estate investment trusts, falling 1.1 per cent to 1,316. Shares in Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group (ASX:SCP) have fallen 2.45 per cent, trading at $1.99. Shares in Stockland Limited (ASX:SGP) and Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,203 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7819