Midday: ASX dips lower after muted leads

Market Reports

 
Following soft leads, the Australian share market opened lower and is 0.37 per cent down at noon. A lift in the iron ore price overnight has failed to buoy miners and a profit down grade from Kathmandu is weighing heavily. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 23 points down at 5,431. On the futures market the SPI is 24 points lower. 
 
Economic news

The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan poll of consumer confidence has shown confidence has risen a further 2.4 per cent to 105.7. This means confidence has recovered around 6 per cent in the past month but still remains about 10 per cent lower than in April when leaks around the ‘tough’ Federal Budget began. 
 
Company news
 
David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS) could be one step closer to a $2.2 billion takeover by South African chain Woolworths Holdings (JSE:WHL). The deal had been stymied by long time retailer Solomon Lew who had accumulated a 9.89 per cent strategic stake in David Jones and was believed to be prepared to block the takeover unless Woolworths bought his 12 percent stake in Country Road. Last week the David Jones board delayed a vote on the takeover bid. This week the South African listed company announced a $17 per share all cash offer for the remaining shares in Country Road it didn’t already own. The offer was at a 21 per cent premium to Country Roads last closing price. Shares in David Jones have lifted on the news and are 4.09 per cent stronger at $3.95. 
 
 
Bionomics Limited (ASX:BNO) today announced an exclusive collaboration and license agreement with US listed drug company Merck. Under the agreement Merck will fund all research and development into the manufacture of drugs to treat Alzheimers and other central nervous system conditions. Bionomics gets an upfront payment of $21 million and can earn up to $537 million if certain milestones are reached. Bionomics will also share in royalties for any products developed. The deal is based around Bionomic’s BNC 375 chemical compound which is targeted at improving memory and learning problems. So far, the compound has been proven to work on animals. Merck will manage the commercialisation and product licensing of any proven drug advancements. Shares in Bionomics have leapt 18.39 per cent higher to $0.52. 
 
Best and worst performers

All sectors are trading lower. The least worst performing sector is real estate investment trusts down less than a point to 1,087. Shares in Westfield Retail Trust have risen 1.08 per cent and trading at $3.29. Shares in Federation Centres are firming and GPT Group is trading flat. 
 
The worst performing sector is health, falling 79 points to 14,262. Shares in Primary Health Care have fallen 1.12 per cent, trading at $4.43. Shares CSL and Sirtex Medical are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,317 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying 94.21 US cents.