Midday: ASX off to a wobbly start

Market Reports

Following weak positive leads, the Australian share market is off to a shaky start and is 0.4 per cent down at noon. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 23 points lower at 5,386. On the futures market the SPI is 22 points lower. 
 
Looking at economic news: A weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan poll has reported a further drop in consumer confidence since the Federal Budget was released. The reading was 3.2 per cent lower at 100.4 and is down 14 per cent since some of the policies outlined in the Federal Budget started leaking out around a month ago its strongest decline since 2008. The report suggests people will tighten their purse strings in the short term however household consumption will improve later in the year. 
 
Company news
 
DUET Group (ASX:DUE) has had 14.1 per cent of its shares snapped up by Spark Infrastructure Limited (ASX:SKI). Spark paid $2.16 per share which was a 4 per cent discount to Duet’s last closing price and launched a $200 million equity raising in a fully underwritten placement to institutional investors. SMH is reporting that Spark plans to raise its stake in DUET to 14.95 per cent. 
Shares in Duet have jumped 4 per cent to $2.34 on the news. 
 
 
And rural services group Ruralco Holdings (ASX:RHL) has reversed its fortunes, swinging to a first half profit of $5.1 million from a trading loss of $500,000 in the first half of 2013. First half revenue was up 14 per cent to $544.6 million while underlying earnings jumped 32 per cent. The company had been struggling with hot and dry seasonal conditions over summer which hit agribusiness hard. Ruralco Holdings has been trying to provide protection against such conditions. In February, it launched a capital raising to acquire water services business Total Eden for $57.4 million. In other news, Richard Norton, Ruralco’s General Manager of Network Development resigned his position to take on the managing director role at Meat & Livestock Australia. Shares in Ruralco Holdings are trading 1.37 per cent softer at $3.60. 
 
 Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is telco services gaining 8 points to 1,839. Shares in M2 Telecommunications have risen 1.72 per cent to $5.90. Shares in Singapore Telecom and Telstra are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is industrial, falling 36 points to 4,057.  Shares in Mineral Resources have fallen 4.20 per cent, trading at $10.71. Shares in NRW Holdings and GWA Group are also lower. 
 
IPOs

Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Limited (ASX:GMA) started trading today. The mortgage lender insurance firm floated with an issue price of $2.65, opened at $2.91 and is currently trading around ten percent higher at $2.94.
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,294 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 93.02 US cents.