Midday: Spanish concerns weigh on ASX

Market Reports

Defying strong offshore leads the Australian share market dropped at open and is down 0.7 per cent at noon. Rising concern for Spanish banks and lower than expected retail trade figures have also pushed the Australian dollar lower. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index has shed 33 points and is 4,082. On the futures market the SPI is 23 points down.

Economic news

Retail sales figures have disappointed but construction work done has beaten expectations: According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics retail sales dropped 0.2 per cent in April, from a gain of 1.1 per cent in March. It was the first fall in 10 months and missed expectations for a rise. Also out from the ABS, figures that show construction work done gained 5.5 per cent in the first three months of this year, around double the gain expected.

Company news

Australian Agricultural Company Limited (ASX:AAC) has paid $13.3 million to buy a 600-hectare site to house its planned $83 million abattoir in Darwin. CEO David Farley says the project fundamentals are compelling, and will secure the long-term future of Australia's northern pastoral industry. The company has also confirmed it expects an operating cashflow surplus this year. Shares in Australian Agricultural Company are trading 0.84 per cent down at $1.19.

Western Desert Resources Limited (ASX:WDR) has advised that the Northern Territory’s Government has declared major project status for its Roper Bar Iron Ore Project. The news comes just days after the company inked a Native Title agreement for the project. Mining at Roper Bar is expected to start next year and could have the potential to produce up to 24 million tonnes of iron ore over and eight year period. Shares in Western Desert Resources are trading 0.98 higher at $1.03.
Best and worst performers

The sector with the smallest gains is Consumer Discretionary down 4 points to 1,246. Shares in Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) are trading flat at $2.00. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) and Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) are lower at noon. 

The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 189 points to 12,677. Shares in Senex Energy Limited (ASX:SXY) have fallen 4.28 per cent, trading at $0.90. Shares in Beach Energy Limited (ASX:BPT) and Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) are also lower.
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,552 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 97.92 US cents.

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