The Australian share market has dipped in to negative territory at noon in what is shaping up to be a choppy session.
The benchmark is trading about a quarter of a per cent lower, led down by bluechips including the big four banks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 13 points down at 5,084. On the futures market the SPI is 19 points lower.
The services sector remains in contraction territory, however is inching closer to expansion in a low interest rate environment with a falling Aussie dollar. The Australian Industry Group Australian Performance of Services Index rose 3.2 points to 49.3 in January, but still remained below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction.
The Federal Court has ruled that Australia and New Zealand Banking Group's (ASX:ANZ)
late payment fees on credit cards are a breach of contract. However, the court found claims against other types of bank fees were allowable. Shares in ANZ are trading 0.27 per cent down at $29.22.
Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP)
shares have dropped after the casino operator posted a significant decline in first half net profit and announced its CEO plans to retire. Net profit for the six months to December 31 totalled $46.1 million, down over 30 per cent on the same period a year ago. In a separate announcement, managing director and CEO John Redmond announced he will retire in the second half of the year to return to the US. Shares in Echo Entertainment are trading 0.86 per cent down at $2.30.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector is consumer discretionary gaining 8 points to 1,723. Shares in REA Group Limited (ASX:REA)
have risen 3.65 per cent and trading at $45.38. Shares in Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
and JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH)
are also stronger.
The worst performing sector is health care, falling 143 points to 13,955. Shares in Acrux Limited (ASX:ACR)
have fallen 9.01 per cent, trading at $1.89. Shares in Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB)
and Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY)
are also lower.
Gold and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,253 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 89.09 US cents.