Ignoring strong leads out of Wall Street, the Australian share market opened lower but has returned to near positive territory to be trading flat at noon, with healthcare stocks cushioning the market in early trade.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 2 points down at 5,205. On the futures market the SPI is 4 points higher.
NAB’s monthly business survey has indicated a 4 point drop in business confidence in April, coming in at an index reading of negative 2. The dip comes as sentiment in the mining sector fell to its lowest level in four years. The reading reverses a jump in business confidence in March.
The ABS says home loan approvals rose by 5.2 per cent in March, above expectations of a 4 per cent climb. There were 48,071 approvals in the month, while total housing finance by value increased 4.5 per cent to $22.98 billion.
Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR)
has successfully completed a fully underwritten $400 million capital raising from institutional investors. The funds will be directed towards the property developer’s $584 million purchase of seven office assets from GE Real Estate Investments Australia. Shares in Mirvac are trading down 0.86 per cent at $1.73.
Coffey International Limited (ASX: COF) shares have plummeted in early trade after consultancy company confirmed a downgrade to its full year earnings guidance that was first flagged several weeks ago. Coffey believes it is becoming clearer that the Australian economy is in contraction, with deteriorating market conditions leading to increased project cancellations and delays. The company expects to report full year pre-tax earnings between $18-19 million, and says it will not be offering a shareholder payout. Shares in Coffey International are trading down 43.48 per cent at $0.13.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is Healthcare gaining 130 points to 13,261. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL)
have risen 0.94 per cent and trading at $62.58. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP)
are up while Ansell Limited (ASX:ANN)
shares are slightly lower at midday.
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 123 points to 9,627. Shares in Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL)
have fallen 4.55 per cent, trading at $3.99. Shares in Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM)
and Alumina Limited (ASX:AWC)
are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,429 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.9986.