Midday: Aus shares 0.1 % higher

Market Reports

Following soft offshore leads driven by weak US economic data, the Australian share market opened 10 points lower this morning before recovering to be trading 0.12 per cent up at noon as gains from the big banks offset losses from the miners. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 4 points up at 5,438. On the futures market the SPI is 15 points higher. 
 
Economic news

Australian Bureau of Statistics total construction work for the December quarter increased by 1.8 per cent, but only 0.2 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms. Estimates for engineering work fell 0.5% seasonally adjusted to $32.3 billion in the December quarter.
 
Company news 
 
Sydney Airport Holdings Limited (ASX:SYD) has reported a 7.3 per cent increase in EBITDA to $910 million for the year, higher than predicted on the back of increased international arrivals and strong revenue growth across all key businesses. New routes into China and India and increased capacity from more than half the international airlines were among key operational highlights.

Sydney Airport's full year distribution increased to 22.5 cents per security and the corporation expects a distribution of 23.5 cents for 2014. Shares in Sydney Airport Holdings are trading up 2.03 per cent at $4.02. 
 
Shares in Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX:MOC) have slipped this morning despite delivering their strongest interim results to date. The company reported a $9.7 million net profit for the first half of Fiscal 2014, a 28.5 per cent increase on a year ago. Mortgage Choice wrote loans worth $6.2 billion in the half, up 18 per cent on the previous corresponding half, buoyed by improving conditions in the property market.
 
CEO Michael Russell said the company’s commitment to becoming a diversified financial services company was starting to pay dividends. Mortgage Choice will pay a 7.5 cent interim dividend, fully franked, up from 6 cents on the H1 of 2013. Shares in Mortgage Choice are trading down 3.72 per cent at $3.11. 
  
The best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Energy gaining 197 points to 13,737. Shares in Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN) have risen 17.42 per cent and trading at $0.52. Shares in Worleyparsons Limited (ASX:WOR) and WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED (ASX:WHC) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is Materials, falling 118 points to 10,560. Shares in BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) have fallen 5.34 per cent, trading at $4.96. Shares in Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) and Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,341 an ounce.

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8990.