Midday: Aus shares taking losses

Market Reports

Following weak leads from Wall Street, and on the back of continuing contraction in the iron ore price, the Australian share market sunk further today and is 0.5 per cent down at noon.
 
Consumer staples was the worst performing sector today with Wesfarmers and Woolworths both slipping. And the miners also weighed on the market with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both giving up more than 1 per cent while Fortescue Metals was down more than 3 per cent.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 26 points down at 5,343. On the futures market the SPI is 25 points lower. 
 
Company news
 
BHP Billiton Limited’s (ASX:BHP) Chairman Jac Nasser has discussed slowing growth in China and the company’s demerger plans as part of its AGM today. Mr Nasser suggested growth in China’s property sector was sowing but other areas were showing resilience. The strategy behind the company’s proposed demerger was also mentioned with the focus on directing capital to projects the delivered the highest returns in a shifting global economy. Shares in BHP are trading down 1.65 per cent at $32.13. 
 
E-health company Pro Medicus Limited (ASX:PME) has signed an $8 million deal with WellSpan Health in the US which will see it utilise its diagnoses and imaging services. The company’s Visage 7 technology will be used as a core component of WellSpan’s enterprise imaging platform for an initial seven year period. CEO Dr Sam Hupert says he is delighted WellSpan selected the company and that it joins a growing install base of large, highly regarded US based health systems that have chosen to standardise on the Visage 7 system. Shares in WellSpan are trading up 4.85 per cent at $1.08. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is real estate investment trusts, gaining 0.5 per cent to 1,146. Shares in Scentre Group Limited (ASX:SCG) have risen 1.46 per cent and trading at $3.47. Shares in Goodman Group (ASX:GMG) and Novion Property Group (ASX:NVN) are also stronger.
 
The worst performing sector is consumer staples, falling 1.8 per cent to 9,356. Shares in Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW), have fallen 3.25 per cent, trading at $31.21. Shares in Asaleo Care Limited (ASX:AHY) and Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,181 an ounce.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8607.