Midday: Aus shares flat at noon

Market Reports

Following positive leads from Wall Street, the Australian share market opened in positive territory, but has seemed to have struggled for direction currently tracking flat or 0.05 per cent lower at noon. Despite a small jump in the price overnight the energy space is continuing to weigh on the market with Woodside and Santos losing some ground. No relief for the materials space either, Rio Tinto has shed another 3 per cent and BHP has lost 2 per cent.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 2 points lower at 4,879. On the futures market the SPI is up 11 points. 
 
Company news

BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) says the Federal Attorney General and other public authorities in Brazil have commenced a public civil claim, seeking the establishment of a fund for clean-up costs and damages relating to the Samarco dam failure. BHP says there has been speculation in the media that settlement has been reached with Brazilian authorities, but BHP says significant progress has been made with the negotiations and it is hopeful that an agreement will be reached. Shares in BHP are trading down 2.19 per cent at $15.65. 
 
Benitec Biopharma Limited (ASX:BLT) has announced it will wind down its Hepatitis C Program. The board made the decision to discontinue the program, saying a number of effective therapies have become available for the treatment of the disease since the company commenced its clinical trial in January 2014. The company says no significant financial obligation will arise from the discontinuance of the Hepatitis C program. Shares in Benitec Biopharma are trading 50 per cent lower at $0.14. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Telcos, gaining 0.9 per cent to 1,912. Shares in Vocus have risen 4.42 per cent and trading at $7.32. Shares in Spark NZ and TPG Telecom are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 0.8 per cent to 6,850. Shares in Sandfire have fallen 5.88 per cent, trading at $5.60. Shares in Oz Minerals and Western Areas are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,236 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7244. 

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