Midday: Aus shares plunge early

Market Reports

The Australian share market opened flat but took a sudden plunge after the first hour, led down by some heavy losses among energy stocks and sell offs among the big banks to be 1.1 per cent down at noon. Meanwhile, unemployment data from the ABS has met expectations, causing a spike in the Australian dollar.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 50 points down at 5,054. On the futures market the SPI is 58 points lower. 
 
Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics says the jobless rate rose to 5.8 per cent last month, meeting expectations. 21 thousand new jobs were added to the economy, comprising 15,500 full time and 5,500 part time positions. The participation rate remained stable at 64.8 per cent.
 
Company news 
 
Natural gas company Envestra Limited (ASX:ENV) has forecast a small full year earnings upgrade on the back of higher than anticipated gas volume to the residential and commercial market so far this year. The company has increased its full year guidance by $5 million to $145 million, and also expects its borrowing costs to come in lower than previously expected. Shares in Envestra are trading up 0.96 per cent at $1.05. 
 
AWE Limited (ASX:AWE) has successfully executed a $300 million unsecured bank loan facility to replace its existing bilateral loan facilities.
The new facility comprises a syndicate of leading Australian banks and has a tenor of four years. CEO Ayren Saridas describes it as an important milestone, positioning the oil and gas explorer for current and future growth activities. Shares in AWE are trading down 0.21 per cent at $1.18. 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Utilities gaining 18 points to 5,273. Shares in Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX:SKI) have risen 1.29 per cent and trading at $1.57. Shares in SP AusNet (ASX:SPN) and Envestra Limited (ASX:ENV) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Energy, falling 160 points to 12,889. Shares in Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX) have fallen 2.92 per cent, trading at $17.30. 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 $US1,254 an ounce and the Australian dollar is buying $US0.9031, having retreated from the day’s high of $US0.90.82 which it hit on the release of the jobless data.