Midday: ASX steady as earnings roll in

Market Reports

by Lelde Smitts

The Australian share market has shrugged off positive offshore leads and opened flat as local earnings reports roll in. With many Asian markets closed for Lunar New Year’s celebrations stocks are looking to results for direction with strength in the consumer discretionary sector being offset by weakness among the miners. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has lost 0.4 points and is sitting at 4,971. On the futures market the SPI is 5 points lower. 
 
Company news

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) has welcomed a decision which will ensure its Hamersley and Robe rail lines in Western Australia should not be opened up to other users. The global miner says its railway would be severely hindered if access was allowed in addition to the knock on negative effect on the state and national economies. Shares in Rio Tinto have lost 0.5 per cent and are trading at $69.25. 
 
Coffey International Limited (ASX: COF) has posted a 20 per cent fall in its first half net profit but forecast an improved second half performance on the back of a stabilisation in its key markets. The international project manager says its turnaround remains on track and it is confident of delivering profitable growth. Shares in Coffey International have gained 6.85 per cent and are trading at $0.39.   
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is consumer discretionary gaining 23 points to 1,513. Shares in JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH) have risen 13.26 per cent and trading at $12.47. Shares in Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) and News Corp (ASX:NWS) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is health care, falling 88 points to 12,267. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP) have fallen 2.61 per cent, trading at $0.65. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) and ResMed Inc. (ASX:RMD) are also lower. 

Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,667 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.032.