Midday: ASX pensive amid US impasse

Market Reports

Following falls on Wall Street the Australian share market opened flat and is treading water ahead of the deadline for a possible US government shutdown. Most major sectors are trading mixed, with investors of course also awaiting the RBA rates call this afternoon, which is widely tipped to be a hold. Among the slew of economic news filtering in this morning, retail sales have beaten expectations, sending the Aussie dollar up about a tenth of a cent.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.3 points up at 5,219. On the futures market the SPI is 4 points lower. 
 
Economic news
 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics says retail sales lifted in August, beating analysts' expectations. Retail spending rose 0.4 per cent to $21.92 billion in the month. Sales lifted by 0.1 per cent in July.
 
Activity in Australia's manufacturing sector expanded for the first time since 2011 in September, helped by the lower Australian dollar and lower interest rates, according to the Australian Industry Group. The AIG performance of manufacturing index (PMI) rose 5.3 points to 51.7 in the month, the first time since June 2011 that the index was above 50, indicating expanding activity in the sector.
 
Capital city home values rose by 1.6 per cent in September to hit a fresh record high, according to the RP Data-Rismark Home Value Index. The index showed strong gains in Sydney and Melbourne, where residential property values were up by over two per cent in each city in the month, while the median dwelling price across capital cities was $500,000. 
 
Also, new home sales lifted in August due to a rise in detached house sales after a decline in July, according to the HIA New Home Sales report. Total seasonally adjusted new home sales lifted by 3.4 per cent in August, following a fall of 4.7 per cent in July. The overall rise was driven by a 5.8 per cent lift in detached house sales.
 
Company news 
 
Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG) has reportedly made a bid for Lloyd’s Banking Group’s Australian assets. According to media reports, final binding offers for close to $9 billion in assets, including Lloyd’s Capital finance unit and corporate loans, were due yesterday. Shares in Macquarie Group are trading down 0.19 per cent at $47.82. 
 
Maverick Drilling and Exploration Limited (ASX:MAD) says it has acquired three additional workover rigs which are currently being tooled for development at its headquarters in Texas. Following the acquisitions, Maverick’s rig fleet will comprise 15 workover rigs, with the first of the new additions expected to be in full operation within 3 weeks. Shares in Maverick are trading up 10.61 per cent at $0.36. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Healthcare gaining 21 points to 13,672. Shares in Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB) have risen 1.05 per cent and trading at $5.76. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) and ResMed Inc.(ASX:RMD) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 82 points to 13,959. Shares in Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX:DLS) have fallen 4.10 per cent, trading at $1.17. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) and Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,329 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.9327.