Midday: Aus shares sink into the red

Market Reports

Following negative offshore leads the Australian share market has continued to sink into the red, falling 0.4 per cent at noon. Concern over Europe’s deepening debt crisis is weighing on investor sentiment with the financials dropping to the worst performing sector. 

The S&P/ASX200 index has fallen 19 points and is 4,624 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 18 weaker.

Company news: Oil and gas producer Santos Ltd (ASX:STO) is reportedly close to inking a $50 million deal to purchase onshore Cooper Basin gas and liquids from Beach Energy Ltd (ASX:BPT) and Drillsearch Energy Ltd (ASX:DLS). According to The Australian the move is geared towards diverting Santos’ gas from domestic customers to the big gas export plants at Gladstone. The paper says if all goes well, an agreement could be secured within the next two weeks. Shares in Santos have eased 0.07 per cent and are trading at $13.96 at noon.

Accounting software provider Reckon Ltd (ASX:RKN) has confirmed that it expects to improve its earnings in the current financial year, from $17.2 million achieved the year before. The forecast is underpinned by an improvement in conditions, with Reckon advising that the lag of the global financial crisis that hit accounting firms is now showing signs of relief and renewed customer interest. Shares in Reckon are 1.29 per cent lower at noon and are trading at $2.29.

Best and worst performers, most are trading in the red: The best performing sector is Telco Services, adding 11 points to 1,034. Shares in Telecom Corporation of New Zealand have gained 7.02 per cent and trading at $1.83. Shares in Engin and Telstra are both in stronger territory at midday. The worst performing sector is Financials Excluding Real Estate Investment Trusts losing 43 points to 4,993. Shares in National Australia Bank have fallen 1.39 per cent and trading at $26.29. Shares in Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking have also declined at noon.

New Zealand: The NZSX50 is 13 point higher. Taking a look at the top four stocks by turnover, Telecom Corporation of New Zealand is at the top of the list with stock up 7.02 per cent at $2.44 followed by Fletcher Building, Westpac, and Telstra.

Gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $US1,518 an ounce and the Aussie dollar is buying $US1.0528 cents.