Midday: Aus shares drift

Market Reports

The Australian share market headed marginally lower again this morning on the back of an announcement by the European Central Bank signalling no change in rates and offering little guidance on further stimulus. 
 
Activity is muted today as investors wait in anticipation of US jobs data to be released tonight local time.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 1.4 points down at 5,296. On the futures market the SPI is 3 points higher.
 
Economic news

The Australian Industry Group has shown a slip in service sector activity with its monthly index showing a reading of 45.4 points. And at a print below 50, it represents contraction in the industry. 
 
Company news
 
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (ASX:API) has announced the successful refinancing of $345 million of debt. The pharmaceutical retailer and wholesaler has reduced its debt facilities to $320 million. The company says a decrease in interest margins and funding lines will see a $1 million reduction in financing costs. Shares in API are trading down 0.73 per cent at $0.68
 
Singapore Telecommunications Limited’s (ASX:SGT) Australian arm Optus has announced a business grade NBN package offering faster internet connections and improved reliability for high use clients. The telco says this will be the first opportunity for Australian customers to utilise NBN business grade speeds and reliability. The package will facilitate high quality video conferencing, use of cloud services and VPN networks.  Shares in Singapore Telecommunications are trading up 0.3 per cent at $3.36 
  
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is financials excluding real estate investment trusts, gaining 0.5 per cent to 6,959. Shares in Ozforex Group Limited (ASX:OFX) have risen 1.23 per cent and trading at $2.47. Shares in Lend Lease Group (ASX:LLC) and QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE) are also stronger.
 
The worst performing sector is materials, falling 1 per cent to 9,141. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) have fallen 3.85 per cent, trading at $0.50. Shares in BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) and Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) are also lower.
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,212 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8792