Midday: Aus shares climb as gold tumbles

Market Reports

The Australian share market has continued to climb and is 0.7 per cent stronger at noon, extending yesterday’s gains of more than 2 per cent. The US Federal Reserve’s decision to start reducing its economic stimulus yesterday showed its confidence in the American economy and shot a rocket up the local bourse.  
 
With market sentiment riding high the traditionally safe-haven asset of gold has come under significant pressure and is on track for its worst year in decades. The price of the precious metal plunged more than $US40 to under $US1,200 an ounce overnight and has hit the local gold miners hard in morning trade. Elsewhere local sectors are buoyant, with energy stocks taking charge on the back of stronger oil prices. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has advanced 40 points and is sitting at 5,242. On the futures market the SPI is 33 points higher. 
 
Economic news 
 
Australian spending has continued to rise for the 15th straight month. CommSec chief economist Craig James says while November's slightly more modest spending growth preceded a dip in consumer confidence in December the signs are generally positive. According to Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s (ASX:CBA) Business Sales Indicator spending by consumers, businesses and government gained 0.5 per cent in trend terms in November. 
 
Company news
 
Shares in Talisman Mining Limited (ASX:TLM) have gained 23.81 per cent after the explorer secured a $15 million joint venture farm-in deal with copper producer Sandfire Resources NL (ASX:SFR) in Western Australia. 
 
Shares in Anittel Group Limited (ASX:AYG) have surged 50 per cent after the Australia’s biggest metropolitan fixed wireless broadband network, BigAir Group Limited (ASX:BGL) announced it will acquire the provider of information and communications technology for a cash consideration of $6.5 million. 
 
Shares in BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) have added 0.18 per cent after the steel marker inked a deal with Austpac Resources NL (ASX:APG) to undertake a bulk trial at the Newcastle Iron Recover Plant.  
 
Shares in ERM Power Limited (ASX:EPW) have dipped 1.27 per cent after providing Empire Oil & Gas NL (ASX:EGO) with a $2 million credit facility to help meet Empire’s working capital requirements while reviews of Empire’s assets and finances are completed. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
All major sectors are making gains: The best performing sector is energy, jumping 206 points to 13,404. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) have risen 2.66 per cent and trading at $3.86. Shares in Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) and Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN) are also stronger. 
 
The sector with the smallest gains is utilities, adding 3 points to 5,358. Shares in Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX:SKI) have fallen 0.79 per cent, trading at $1.57. Shares in APA Group (ASX:APA) and DUET Group (ASX:DUE) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold has hit a three year low and trading at $US1,193 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8864.