Midday: Aus shares trim losses as gold gains

Market Reports

The Australian share market has bounced from the morning’s low and is trading almost where it started the session. Across the sectors there is a mixed performance with the Big Four Banks and supermarket giants weighing. Energy and materials are stronger with gold miners rising on the back of a stronger price of the precious metal. Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) has jumped to the top 200’s best performer after releasing a better than expected earnings forecast. 
 
Figures 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is trading 11 points lower at 5,394. On the futures market the SPI is 12 points lower. 
 
Energy M&A
 
Experts have backed a controversial proposed $800 million merger between Roc Oil Company Limited (ASX:ROC) and Horizon Oil Limited (ASX:HZN). Independent expert Grant Samuel states the merger is in the best interests of Roc shareholders with benefits significantly outweighing the disadvantages. The proposed merger has the unanimous support of both the Roc and Horizon boards but has received some opposition from shareholders. Roc has also today asked shareholders to vote against a resolution at an extraordinary general meeting in July which could put the merger in doubt. Share in Roc Oil Company have dipped 0.91 per cent and are trading at $0.55 at noon. 
 
Oil and gas explorer Drillsearch Energy Limited (ASX:DLS) has boosted its bid for Ambassador Oil & Gas Limited (ASX:AQO). Drillsearch is now offering 1 Drillsearch share for every 5.4 Ambassador shares plus 5 cents in cash per Ambassador share. The offer represents a price of $0.338 per Ambassador share which is a 73 per cent premium to the company’s closing price before the original bid was made last month. US corporation Magnum Hunter Resources is also on the hunt for Ambassador and offering a price valued at 34 cents per share. Shares in Drillsearch Energy have slipped 2.57 per cent and are trading at $1.52 at noon. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
Gold miners have pushed materials up to the best performer, gaining 21 points to 9,508. Shares in Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) have risen 6.96 per cent and trading at $1.84. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) and Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is industrials, falling 25 points to 4,017. Shares in Skilled Group Limited (ASX:SKE) have dropped 2.12 per cent, trading at $2.31. Shares in NRW Holdings Limited (ASX:NWH) and Downer EDI Limited (ASX:DOW) are also lower. 
 
IPOs
 
Blue Sky Alternatives Access Fund Limited (ASX:BAF) started trading today. The investor in alternative asset classes floated with an issue price of $1.00, opened at $1.00 and is currently trading at $1.02.    
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,282 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9392.