Midday: Miners fuel local gains

Market Reports

The Australian share market has followed positive overseas leads and risen 0.8 per cent at noon. Energy and resources stocks are leading gains, with copper miner Equinox Minerals Ltd (ASX:EQN) surging over 27 per cent to a record high after it received a $6.5 billion takeover bid from China’s Minmetals Resources.

The S&P/ASX200 index has advanced 34 points and is 4,896 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 43 points higher.

Company news: Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) has announced that its CEO Michael Luscombe will retire after five years in the role and 33 years with the Australia’s largest retailer. The current chief operating officer of Woolworths' food and petrol division, Grant O'Brien, will succeed him. Mr O'Brien will immediately become deputy CEO and join the supermarket giant's board as an executive director. After 24 years of service at Woolworths, Mr O'Brien will formally take on the role of the company’s 12th CEO on 1 October, 2011. Shares in Woolworths have firmed 0.37 per cent and are trading at $27.24. 

QR National (ASX:QRN) will shed over 6 per cent of its workforce, announcing that it has accepted over 600 voluntary lay-offs. Following its public listing at the end of last year, Australia’s largest coal hauler says it has had a strong response to its voluntary redundancy program. It is expected that the program will cost a total cash outlay of $75 million, including the payment of leave entitlements. Shares in QR National have risen 1.46 per cent at noon and are trading at $3.47. 

Best and worst performers: The best performing sector is Energy, lifting 181 points to 17,360. Shares in Coal & Allied Industries have gained 3.36 per cent and trading at $126.55. Shares in Carnarvon Petroleum and New Hope Corporation have also firmed at midday. The worst performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trusts, flat at 861 points. Shares in ING Office Fund have slipped 0.81 per cent to $0.615. Shares in Westfield Group and Charter Hall Group are also lower at noon.

New Zealand: The NZSX50 has added 2 points. Taking a look at the top four stocks by turnover, Fletcher Building is at the top of the list with stock down 0.64 per cent at $9.28 followed by Westpac, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand and ANZ.

Gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $US1431 an ounce and the Aussie dollar is buying $US1.039 cents.  

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