Midday: Oil price & energy sector drag on ASX

Market Reports

Following weak leads the Australian share market opened softly and is trading barely unchanged at noon. Lower oil prices have weighed on the energy sector along with a disappointing update from Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR)
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has slipped 3 points to 5,948. On the futures market the SPI is flat. 
 
Company news
 
Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) will make a $40 million investment into its regional branch network over the next two years. The bank has also flagged further investment after 2017 and expects more than half of its regional branch network will be upgraded by 2020. Shares in Westpac Banking Corporation have dipped 0.25 per cent and are trading at $39.61. 
 
Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) have plunged in morning trade after providing an update on its Kangaroo West-1 exploration well. The oil and gas explorer says the latest data has shown no hydrocarbons were intersected because of a lack of oil migration charge into the structure. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia have plunged 16.29 per cent and are trading at $2.21. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector is health care, gaining 0.6 per cent to 19,742. Shares in Virtus Health Limited (ASX:VRT) have risen 2.73 per cent and trading at $7.53. Shares in Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) and Greencross Limited (ASX:GXL) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is energy, falling almost 1 per cent to 11,068. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) have plunged 16.29 per cent, trading at $2.21. Shares in Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) and Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX:DLS) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is buying $US1,171 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7652.