Midday: ASX defies leads & retreats into red

Market Reports

Defying strong leads the Australian share market opened barely unchanged and has retreated 0.4 per cent into the red at noon. Most sectors are trading lower weighted down by property, utilities, health and financial stocks. Mining and energy sectors are providing some support after commodity prices rose overnight. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has dipped 22 points to 5,954 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 15 lower. 
 
Company news
 
Shares in Village Roadshow Limited (ASX:VRL) have risen after establishing a funds management business with Chinese state-owned investment giant CITIC Trust Co. Ltd. The theme park operator says funds will be invested in theme parks, entertainment facilities and related real estate development throughout Asia with a focus on China. Village Roadshow has been working on the deal for more than two years and its subsidiary will hold 49 per cent of the fund with the remainder controlled by CITIC. Shares in Village Roadshow have risen 3.3 per cent to $5.64 at noon. 
 
Shares in RCG Corporation Limited (ASX:RCG) have jumped after completing a fully underwritten placement to raise $25 million. The investment holding company plans to put proceeds of the placement to partly fund the acquisition of Accent Group Limited, expected to cost up to $200 million. CEO Hilton Brett says RCG is delighted with the strong level of support shown for the offer which he believes is an important vote of confidence in the company. Shares in RCG Corporation have jumped 36.11 per cent to $0.98 at noon. 

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is materials, gaining 0.5 per cent to 9,247. Shares in Sandfire Resources NL (ASX:SFR) have risen 5.48 per cent and trading at $4.43. Shares in Evolution Mining Limited (ASX:EVN) and Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is real estate investment trusts, falling 1.12 per cent to 1,321. Shares in Stockland Limited (ASX:SGP) have dropped 1.83 per cent, trading at $4.57. Shares in Scentre Group Limited (ASX:SCG) and Cromwell Group (ASX:CMW) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is buying $US1,186 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7779.