Midday: Aus shares slip lower on banks

Market Reports


Despite an overnight jump in iron ore prices and gains in US energy stocks overnight, the Australian share market is being weighed by weakness in the banks and is 0.56 per cent down at noon. 
 
A retreat in consumer sentiment following a strong rise after the last rate cut in February also helped send the market south. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 34 points down at 5,913. On the futures market the SPI is 37 points lower.
 
Looking at economic news: The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Index of consumer confidence has slipped a seasonally adjusted 3.2 per cent in April to 96.2, 3.5 per cent lower than last April. It follows a 1.2 per cent drop in March. February’s interest rate cut had sent the index up 8 per cent. 
 
Company news
 
Engineering firm UGL Limited (ASX:UGL) has announced the appointment of Southern Cross Electrical chairman John Cooper to the board as a non-executive director. Mr Cooper is also on the board to Aurizon Holdings and NRW Holdings and has many years experience across civil and commercial projects in the mining, engineering and property sectors. Shares in UGL are trading up 5.36 per cent at $1.48. 
 
The proposed merger between Federation Centres (ASX:FDC) and Novion Property Group (ASX:NVN) is one step closer with approval from the Supreme Court of NSW for a shareholder vote on the proposal. Scheme meetings have been announced. The merged group would be the second largest listed manager of Australian retail assets. Shares in Federation Centres are trading down 1.49 per cent at $2.98. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is energy, gaining 1.1 per cent to 11,527. Shares in Liquified Natural Gas have risen 7.79 per cent and trading at $4.29. Shares in Drillsearch and Beach Energy are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is consumer discretionary, falling 1.4 per cent to 1,973 Shares in STW Communications have fallen 5.43 per cent, trading at $0.61. Shares in Slater and Gordon and Corporate Travel Management are also lower. 
 

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,195 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 76.11 US cents.