Market at Midday: Shares slightly lower

Market Reports

The Australian share market is slightly lower at midday, tracking losses on Wall Street after concerns were raised about the state of Portugal’s finances and sovereign debt.

The S&P/ASX200 index is 10 points lower at 4,882 and on the futures market the SPI200 is steady.

In company news: Aquila Resources Ltd (ASX:AQA) says the pre-feasibility study for the proposed Belvedere hard coking coal project in Queensland indicates it will cost about $2.81 billion to build. The company has a 24.5% interest in the project and Brazilian miner Vale, which conducted the study, owns 51%. The study proposes an underground longwall mine, producing initially 3.5 million tonnes per year of coking coal. Aquila says the results confirm the mine can produce coal for about $71 per tonne and the mine has a life of over 30 years. Construction of the mine is likely to start in 2014 with first coal mined in 2016. Shares in Aquila Resources are down 2% at $10.76.

Investment group Austock Ltd (ASX:ACK) is assessing its options after the ACCC opposed the proposed sale of its stake in share registry Newreg. ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel says the corporate regulator opposed the sale because it was likely to lessen competition in the sector, leading to higher prices and reduced quality of service that would ultimately impact shareholders. Austock announced the proposed sale of its 16.7% interest in Newreg to Link Market Securities for about $8 million. The transaction was expected to be completed by March 31. Shares in Austock are steady at $0.27.

Turning now to market indices: The best performing sector at midday is the Telco Services index, up 6 points at 1,057. Shares in Amcom Telecommunications rose 1.75% to $0.29. Shares in Telecom of New Zealand and Telstra were also higher at noon.

The worst performing sector is the Materials index, down 50 points to 12,679. Shares in Lihir Gold are down 2.6% to $3. Shares in Bluescope Steel and BHP Billiton are also lower at midday.

Looking to New Zealand and the NZSX50 is 3 points lower. Taking a look at the top 4 stocks by turnover: First in the list is Telecom of New Zealand, stock is up 0.47% at $2.14, followed by, Fletcher Building, Westpac and Lend Lease.

To gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at US$1,088.30 an ounce and the Aussie dollar is trading at 91.14 US cents.

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