Midday: Soft leads push Aus shares south

Market Reports

Soft offshore leads pushed the Australian share market south at open and the benchmark index is 0.4 per cent lower at noon. Most sectors are in the red, led by losses among property, telco, industrials and financials sectors. The mining sector is offering some support despite lower commodity prices and the iron ore price hitting a fresh five year low overnight. After slipping under $US0.91 overnight the Australian dollar has stayed down, one week after reaching $US0.94  following US jobs data.
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has fallen 20 points to 5,526 at noon. On the futures market the SPI is 18 points lower. 
 
Company news
 
Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) has revealed a senior executive shake-up as part of a push to accelerate its transformation. Optus’ current Group Digital Life boss Allen Lew has been appointed Optus’ new CEO and Paul O’Sullivan will step in the Chairman’s role at Optus. SingTel says the restructure combines retention of existing management strength and experience with new leadership talent. The company is aiming to strengthen its market leadership and boost relevance to customers and the changes will take effect from October. Shares in Singapore Telecommunications have gained 2.08 per cent and are trading at $3.43. 
 
Iron ore miner BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) is closer to strengthening its Pilbara portfolio after securing control of Kerry Stokes' Iron Ore Holdings Limited (ASX:IOH). Both companies agreed to enter a bid implementation agreement last month under which BC Iron offered to acquire Iron Ore Holdings through an off-market takeover. BC Iron now has a 59.5 per cent relevant interest in the target after Iron Ore Holdings’ major shareholder Wroxby accepted the offer earlier this week. The deal offers Iron Ore Holdings shareholders 0.44 new BC shares and $0.10 in cash for every Iron Ore Holdings share held. Shares in BC Iron have dipped 0.48 per cent and are trading at $2.08.
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector is materials, gaining 0.3 per cent to 9,757. Shares in Evolution Mining Limited (ASX:EVN) have risen 4.17 per cent and trading at $0.69. Shares in Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) and Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is telco services, falling 0.5 per cent to 1,947. Shares in M2 Group Limited (ASX:MTU) have eased 4.88 per cent, trading at $7.60. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,237 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9062.