Midday: Aus shares retreat from early highs

Market Reports

The Australian share market was buoyed by a positive US lead to open higher but finds itself flat at midday despite a continued surge among financial stocks, as investors digest a drop in business confidence in February. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 4 points down at 5,143. On the futures market the SPI is 8 points lower. 
 
Economic news

The National Australia Bank’s monthly business survey has shown a two point drop in business confidence in February, to an index reading of one. Despite the fall, the above zero reading indicates business confidence is in moderately positive territory. 
 
Company news 
 
Pharmaxis Limited (ASX:PXS) has appointed current CFO Gary Phillips as its new boss, following the resignation of founding CEO Dr Alan Robertson after 13 years in the top job. Chairman Malcolm McComas says Mr Phillips has an exceptional knowledge of the Pharmaxis business and a strong relationship with its major stakeholders. Mr Phillips will assume the role of CEO immediately, while Dr Robertson will remain attached to the company in a consulting capacity. Shares in Pharmaxis are trading down 1.68 per cent at $0.58. 
 
Voice and data service provider My Net Fone Limited (ASX:MNF) has been accredited by the Queensland Government’s Chief Procurement Office as an approved supplier. CEO Rene Sugo says the accreditation cements the company’s credibility in the Enterprise and Government space, and is indicative of a growing shift towards Voice Over Internet Protocol communications. Mr Sugo says My Net Fone is actively pursuing similar opportunities with other state governments. Shares in My Net Fone are trading up 8.28 per cent at $1.57. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Financials excluding real estate investment trusts gaining 26 points to 6,458. Shares in National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) have risen 1.26 per cent and trading at $32.04. Shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and AMP Limited (ASX:AMP) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 189 points to 13,514. Shares in Maverick Drilling and Exploration Limited (ASX:MAD) have fallen 3.91 per cent, trading at $0.61. Shares in Paladin Energy Limited(ASX:PDN) and Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,580 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.028.

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