Midday: ASX edges toward 5,000

Market Reports

The Australian share market heeded a strong lead from US stocks basking in eight straight days of gains to open stronger and is relatively flat at noon, although it is dancing back around the 5,000 point threshold. REIT’s are leading the way among the sectors while Healthcare stocks are weighing on the market at this point. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 6 points up at 4,988. On the futures market the SPI is 4 points higher. 
 
Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia has released its board meeting minutes for July, and we’ll take a look at some of the key points now. According to Governor Stevens and the RBA: 
 
•  The outlook for both mining and non-mining business investment remained uncertain
•  Mining investment was likely to remain high for some quarters given the considerable volume of committed work, even though it looked to be   close to, if not past, its peak. 
•  Given the exchange rate adjustment that was occurring, and with the substantial degree of monetary stimulus already in place, members        assessed the current stance of policy to be appropriate.
 
Company news
 
Orica Limited (ASX:ORI) has announced a gas supply deal with Strike Energy Limited (ASX:STX) in which it will make pre-payments of up to $52.5 million to fund the development of Strike’s Cooper Basin gas project. In return, Strike may deliver as much as 150 petajoules of gas below market price to Orica, although it is unlikely to deliver any gas from the project before 2016. Strike shares have soared 15 per cent on the news. Shares in Orica are trading down 2.38 per cent at $20.95. 
 
Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY) has officially had its corporate debt rating downgraded by financial services firm Standard & Poor’s. S & P explained the downgrade as the result of an expectation that operating conditions will remain difficult for Boart in the next 12 months due to the reduced exploration drilling budgets of major mining companies, however says that cost-cutting measures should eventually lead to improved credit measures. Shares in Boart Longyear are trading up 4.12 per cent at $0.51. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Real estate investment trusts gaining 6 points to 1,034. Shares in CFS Retail Property Trust (ASX:CFX) have risen 1.82 per cent and trading at $1.96. Shares in Stockland (ASX:SGP) and DEXUS Property Group (ASX:DXS) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Healthcare, falling 78 points to 13,538. Shares in Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) have fallen 1.65 per cent, trading at $36.42. Shares in Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX) and Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,281 an ounce. The Australian dollar saw a rise against the greenback and the Japanese Yen this morning, it’s currently buying $US0.9144.