Midday: Aus shares absorb data deluge

Market Reports

The Australian share market headed lower in morning trade ahead of Chinese inflation data. Speculation is also again surrounding the US Federal Reserve’s timeline for tapering economic stimulus after the central bank’s latest meeting minutes showed members are optimistic about America’s economic recovery. Stronger data from the US jobs sector has also stoked concerns the Fed may have less reason to boost economic stimulus. Closer to home lower commodity prices are pushing the miners down a rough week of losses. Most sectors are trading in the red with only energy and consumer discretionary sectors defying the trend.   
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has headed 9 points down to 5,307. On the futures market the SPI is 12 points lower. 
 
Economic news
 
Retail sales rose more than expected in the lead up to the Christmas season. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports retail sales increased 0.7 per cent in November 2013 against expectations of a 0.4 per cent rise and after gaining 0.5 per cent in October.
 
Data out yesterday showed online spending jumped in November 2013. National Australia Bank Limited’s (ASX:NAB) monthly online retail sales index grew 1.5 per cent in November from the month before and 10.7 per from 2012. 
 
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has also shown building approvals figures fell more than expected. The ABS reports building approvals dropped 1.5 per cent to 16,396 in November, against expectations of a 1 per cent fall. Building approvals are 22.2 per cent higher over the year to November 2013. 
 
Australia’s biggest port again increased exports at the end of December 2013, undiscouraged by a tropical cyclone which hit the Pilbara coast of Western Australia. The Port Hedland Port Authority reports iron exports to China grew 8 per cent to 24.2 million tonnes while total iron ore shipments reached 29.5 million tonnes in December. The gains came despite being impacted Cyclone Christine which forced a two-day halt in shipments. 
 
Market movers at midday
 
Shares in Nucoal Resources Limited (ASX:NCR) sunk more than 20 per cent in morning trade but are now 3.45 per cent lower one day after telling the market it will fight to keep its coal licences and highlighting a broker report which raises concerns about the company. The miner has been at the centre of a New South Wales corruption inquiry and says it will lodge its submission to the state government to prove why the Doyles Creek project exploration licence should not be cancelled.
 
Shares in Mark Bouris' TZ Limited (ASX:TZL) have extended this week’s gains and are up 11.11 per cent at noon after the technology company said its US arm has received a $800,000 purchase order just days after the company scored a tender win from the Italian postal organisation. 
 
Shares in Red Mountain Mining Limited (ASX:RMX) have widened this week’s winning streak and are up 76.47 per cent at noon after the gold explorer released the latest round of results from the Lobo Prospect in the Philippines and labelled the results as exceptional.  
 
Shares in Newsat Limited (ASX:NWT) are trading 1.15 per cent higher after the satellite communications company secured an extra $US26 million of revenue on its Jabiru-1 satellite which is preparing to launch in 2015. 
  
Best and worst performers 
 
Most sectors are in negative territory: The best performing sector is consumer staples, gaining 30.5 points to 10,028. Shares in Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE) have risen 2.29 per cent and trading at $4.91. Shares in Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) and Coca-Cola Amatil Limited (ASX:CCL) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is health care, falling 44 points to 14,315. Shares in Virtus Health Limited (ASX:VRT) have fallen 1.38 per cent, trading at $8.53. Shares in Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX:SHL) and Ansell Limited (ASX:ANN) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,226 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8913 cents.