Midday: ASX extends gains on upbeat earnings

Market Reports

Positive leads buoyed the Australian share market at open and the benchmark is trading 0.3 per cent higher at noon. Most sectors have moved up but materials are in the red after commodity prices dipped and the price of iron ore hit a fresh two-month low. Industrials is the best performing sector following well received results from Qube Holdings Limited (ASX:QUB) and Mermaid Marine Australia Limited (ASX:MRM). Oil and gas producer Santos Limited (ASX:STO) and mineral sands miner Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) have also gained after posting interim results. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has lifted 18 points to 5,657 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 15 points higher. 
 
Company news 
 
Crown Resorts Limited (ASX:CWN) has scored a 17 year extension on its Melbourne casino licence. The gaming company has agreed to make a series of payments to the Victoria government regarding the extension and taxes. Chairman James Packer says Crown has for a long time been at a major competitive disadvantage on the issue of taxation. Mr Packer says Crown will now have a licence enabling it to compete on a level playing field to drive the state’s tourism, jobs and economy. Shares in Crown Resorts have gained 1.63 per cent and are trading at $16.24 at noon.
 
Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) has warned its full year financial report will be hit by a one-off impairment charge of about $25 million. The iron ore miner expects to record the charge due to restructuring and divestments. Managing Director Ken Brisden says the initiatives reflect the company’s commitment to cutting costs and focussing on its core iron ore strategy. Atlas Iron has advised its asset portfolio rationalisation continues with anticipated annual cash savings of about $10 million. Shares in Atlas Iron have dropped 4.38 per cent and are trading at $0.66 at noon. 
  
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector is industrials, gaining almost 1 per cent to 4,226. Shares in Qube Holdings Limited (ASX:QUB) have risen 5.63 per cent and trading at $2.44. Shares in ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ) and Mermaid Marine Australia Limited (ASX:MRM) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is materials, easing 0.3 per cent to 10,267. Shares in Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) have fallen 4.38 per cent, trading at $0.66. Shares in Independence Group NL (ASX:IGO) and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) are also lower. 
 
IPOs 
 
QV Equities Limited (ASX:QVE) started trading today. The investment company floated with an issue price of $1.00, opened at $0.97 and is currently trading at $0.965.    
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,278 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9306.