Midday: Aus shares slightly higher

Market Reports

Aussie shares are slightly higher at noon, following on from Wall St itching out modest gains overnight. The banking sector is higher on news the National Australia Bank has improved its full year net profit by 63 per cent, while the Telco’s are also aiding the gains.

The S&P/ASX200 index is 3 points higher at 4,691 and on the futures market, the SPI200 is up 6.

In economic news: The Australian Bureau of Statistics consumer price index rose 0.7 per cent in the September quarter, compared to the rise of 0.6 per cent in the previous quarter. The measure of inflation delivered a read lower than the 0.8 per cent rise expected, reducing the possibility that the Reserve Bank will lift interest rates next week.

To company news: Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX:IAG) has confirmed it is on track to reach its full year guidance of an insurance margin of 10.5 to 12.5 per cent, and underlying gross written premium growth of between 3-5 per cent. Managing director Mike Wilkins says early fiscal 2011 delivered strong performance, achieved despite the challenges of responding to a number of significant natural perils. These perils included storms in South East Australia, the earthquake that struck New Zealand as well as a severe snowstorm in New Zealand’s South Island. IAG advises the claim cost for these events will be covered by reinsurance arrangements. Shares in Insurance Australia Group are down 0.52% at $3.82.

Shares in Petsec Energy Ltd (ASX:PSA) have climbed over 20 per cent today, following an announcement the oil and gas producer has made a discovery at its partly owned prospect in the Gulf of Mexico. Petsec says a sizable gas and condensate discovery was made at the Marathon Prospect on the Louisiana coastline. Production is expected to cost Petsec US$1.2 million and to start before the end of the year. Chairman Terry Fern says Petsec is delighted that its strategy to drill for much larger targets in the deeper geologic section has borne fruit in its second well. Shares in Petsec Energy have surged 21.21% to $0.20.

Turning now to market indices: The best performing sector is Telco Services with the index up 12 points to 930. Shares in Amcom Telecommunications are up 4.55% to $0.345. Shares in Telstra and Singtel are also higher at noon. The worst performing sector at midday is Utilities, with the index down 54 points to 4,559. Shares in AGL Energy have dropped 2.7% to $16.22 Shares in Geodynamics and Envestra are also lower at noon.

To New Zealand now, the NZSX50 is up 7 points. Taking a look at the top 4 stocks by turnover: Topping the list is Telecom of New Zealand with stock up 0.48% at $2.08 followed by ANZ, Fletcher Building and Guinness Peat Group.

To gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $1343 US an ounce and the Aussie dollar is trading at 97.9 US cents.

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