Midday: Aus shares led down by miners

Market Reports

The Australian share market has kicked off the trading week in negative territory, driven down 0.6 per cent by losses among the miners following a sell off on the back of commodity price drops last Friday. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 42 points lower at 4,972. On the futures market the SPI is 47 points lower. 
 
Economic news
 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says home loan demand came in above expectations in February, its first increase in five months. 
The number of home loans granted in February lifted 2 two per cent to 45,423, up from 44,547 in January. Total housing finance by value climbed 1.4 per cent in February, to $21.8 billion.
 
Company news
 
Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI) wholly owned subsidiary Thiess has been awarded a $125 million contract for work on the electrical distribution network throughout metropolitan Perth. The performance based contract, awarded by Western Power, has a two year term with options for further one year extensions. Shares in Leighton Holdings are down 0.72 per cent at $19.38.
 
Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL) shares have entered a trading halt pending the release of an announcement from the coal explorer. 
The halt is expected to remain in place until the commencement of trading this Wednesday April 17th, and it is not certain whether the announcement will pertain to the establishment of a new exporting region for coal in Alberta, Canada. Shares in Coalspur Mines last traded at $0.47. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Telco services, gaining 11 points to 1,600. Shares in Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) have risen 0.73 per cent and trading at $2.76. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and M2 Telecommunications Group Limited (ASX:MTU) are also stronger at noon. 
 
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 376 points to 9,247. Shares in Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) have fallen 15 per cent, trading at $0.68. Shares in Kingsgate Consolidated Limited (ASX:KCN) and Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,436 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying just over $US1.046.