Midday: Offshore events weigh on ASX

Market Reports

The Australian share market has started the week in the red, weighed down by offshore events. US markets finished last week lower amid news of another mass shooting and as fiscal cliff negotiations dragged on. In Asia, Japan’s election result over the weekend has seen the Aussie dollar climb against the yen. In China the nation’s economic plans for next year, released over the weekend, have put a dampener on sentiment. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has dipped 8 points and is sitting at 4,575. On the futures market the SPI is currently flat. 

Company news

Elders Limited (ASX:ELD) has struck a deal to divest its Indian Sandalwood assets and plans to put the sale proceeds to paying down debt. While the deal is subject to a number of conditions the agribusiness expects to complete the transaction in the first quarter of 2013. Shares in Elders have fallen 4.17 per cent and are trading at $0.12.  
 
White Energy Company Limited (ASX:WEC) has inked an exclusive 90 day option agreement to buy a US coal company in a deal worth up to $US29 million if executed. The Australian coal company will now conduct due diligence on the existing US open-cut coal mining operation to decide whether to proceed with the transaction. Shares in White Energy Company have risen 4.26 per cent and are trading at $0.24. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is industrials gaining 13 points to 3,441. Shares in NRW Holdings Limited (ASX:NWH) have risen 8.39 per cent and trading at $1.55. Shares in Emeco Holdings Limited (ASX:EHL) and GWA International Limited (ASX:GWA) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is health care, falling 66 points to 11,516. Shares in Acrux Limited (ASX:ACR) have fallen 1.07 per cent, trading at $2.78. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) are lower while shares in Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP) are slightly higher. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,696 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.055.