Midday: Aus shares lift slightly

Market Reports

The Australian share market has lifted slightly at noon after mixed overseas leads. The miners are up, while energy stocks have fallen behind. Both News Corporation (ASX:NWS) and Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (ASX:TAH) have gained after posting better than expected results.

The S&P/ASX200 index has lifted 7 points and is 4,804 at noon. On the futures market the SPI up 9 points.

Economic news: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported that Australian building approvals lifted 8.7 per cent to 14,457 units in December, seasonally adjusted, from an upwardly revised 13,294 units the month before. In the 2010 calendar year, building approvals fell 5 per cent.

Company news: Shares in QBE Insurance Group Ltd (ASX:QBE) last traded at $16.94. QBE Insurance Group has entered into a trading halt, ahead of an announcement which is expected to detail acquisition activity. The country’s largest insurance group has been at the centre of speculation that it is vying to buy the Balboa insurance business from Bank of America Corp. QBE advises that it is likely to release an announcement before the end of the week also detailing its preliminary 2010 results and impact of recent wet weather conditions. In the six months to 30 June 2010, QBE Insurance Group reported a net profit of $523 million.

Shares in WPG Resources (ASX:WPG) have shed 2.14 per cent at noon at are trading at $0.915. WPG Resources has inked a deal with American clean coal developer Evergreen Energy Inc to commercialise coal upgrading technology throughout Australia. WPG Resources says it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Evergreen to utilise the company’s K-Fuel clean coal technology, a process increasing the heating value of low quality coal while reducing the environmental impact of coal energy production. The joint venture is due to be formed before 20 September this year. In the year to 30 June 2010, WPG reported a net loss of $2.35 million.

Market indices: The best performing sector is Materials with the index rising 90 points to 14,112. Shares in Integra Mining are up 5.66 per cent to $0.56. Shares in Murchison Metals and Gryphon Minerals are also up at noon. The worst performing at midday is Energy falling 96 points to 16,182. Shares in Gloucester Coal have loosing 3.1 per cent and are $12.50. Shares in Paladin Energy and Oil Search are also down at midday.

To New Zealand: The NZSX50 is flat. Taking a look at the top 4 stocks by turnover, Fletcher Building is at the top of the list with stock is down 0.38% to $7.87; followed by Telecom Corporation of New Zealand, ANZ and Telstra.

To gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $US1,335 an ounce and the Aussie dollar is buying $US1.0122.