Midday: Commodities tip ASX into red

Market Reports

Following a weak lead from Wall Street and slumps in European stocks, the Australian share market opened lower and is 0.8 per cent down at noon, with investors flocking from mining stocks as commodity prices continue to dip. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 41 points down at 4,964. On the futures market the SPI is 43 points lower. 
 
Economic news

NAB’s monthly business survey has indicated an increase in sentiment in January. The survey indicated a seven point rise in business confidence to kick off the year, coming in at a reading of plus two. The reading comes on the back of better results in construction activity as well as the finance sector. 
 
Company news
 
Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) supermarket chain, Coles quarterly sales have spiked 6.4 per cent as its reaps the rewards of price discounts on shelved items. The supermarkets’ total sales lifted to $8.35 billion from $7.85 billion in the previous corresponding quarter, its fastest growth in two years.  Shares in Wesfarmers are trading up 0.91 per cent at $42.27. 
 
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) is on track to meet its full year iron ore production guidance, following a strong lift in first quarter production. The Iron ore producer mined 25.3 metric tonnes of iron ore in the quarter, a 51% increase on the prior quarter as its Christmas Creek mine ramped up and operations commenced at Firetail in the Pilbara. Shares in Fortescue are trading down 4.30 per cent at $3.56. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Telco services gaining 17 points to 1,678. Shares in Telecom Corp of New Zealand (ASX:TEL) have risen 1.75 per cent and trading at $2.03. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 298 points to 8,797. Shares in Discovery Metals Limited (ASX:DML) have fallen 12.03 per cent, trading at $0.35. Shares in Alacer Gold Corp (ASX:AQG) and OceanaGold Corporation (ASX:OGC) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,350 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US1.029.