17/12/2008 - 10:29

Stocks slip at noon, still in the black

17/12/2008 - 10:29

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The Australian sharemarket extended the morning's positive gains at noon, buoyed by gains in the materials sector.

Stocks slip at noon, still in the black

The Australian sharemarket extended the morning's positive gains at noon, buoyed by gains in the materials sector.

At 1200 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 30.8 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 3587 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 30.6 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 3529.5 points.

This morning the major indices opened some 2 per cent higher following the US Federal Reserve's decision to cut the base lending rate to virtually zero.

On the Sydney Futures Exchange, the December share price index contract was up 16 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 3570 points on a volume of 78,918 contracts.

Burrell Stockbroking associate Peter Wright said a positive lead from offshore didn't boost the market as much as expected.

"Figures from offshore trading weren't fantastic," Mr Wright said.

"It will be interesting to see what happens overnight.

"There's not a lot out there today really. I would have thought we'd have been a bit more vigorous than this today.

"The volume hasn't even got through two billion which at (midday) is unbelievable."

At 1201 AEDT, BHP Billiton had gained 40 cents, or 1.31 per cent, to $31.04 while Rio Tinto was up 68 cents, or 1.73 per cent, at $39.88.

There were also gains among the gold miners, with Lihir Gold up 15 cents, or 5.84 per cent, at $2.72, Newcrest Mining gaining 99 cents, or 3.41 per cent, to $29.99 and Newmont Mining adding five cents to $5.65.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US852.25 per fine ounce, up $US15.65 on Tuesday's close of $US836.60.

At 1211 AEDT, shares in major energy stocks also had gained, with Woodside Petroleum up 83 cents, or 2.4 per cent, to $35.43, Santos up 12 cents to $14.69 and Oil Search adding five cents, or 1.06 per cent, to $4.78.

The banking sector was mixed.

Commonwealth Bank was in a trading halt at $29.15, while Westpac dropped 41 cents, or 2.49 per cent, to $16.08 and ANZ lost 46 cents, or 3.2 per cent, to $13.90.

"There's all kind of speculation with what's going on with CBA, so that's obviously had an effect on our market," Mr Wright said.

Shares in National Australia Bank, which says it is in advanced talks to purchase the brand name and Australian distribution network of Wizard Home Loans, were up three cents to $19.23.

Centro Properties Group has been granted a stay of execution, securing a one-month extension for all of its debt facilities, totalling $6.01 billion, that expired on Monday.

At 1219 AEDT, Centro shares were up 2.8 cents, or 32.18 per cent, at 11.5 cents.

Among the other diversified financials, Babcock and Brown was down half a cent, or 3.03 per cent, to 16 cents, and Perpetual added 60 cents, or 1.96 per cent, to $31.23.

Property developer Stockland says it's on track to meet its operating earnings guidance for fiscal 2009 but has cut its earnings per security (EPS) outlook after booking writedowns in Australia and the UK.

Stockland shares were down 22 cents, or 5.98 per cent, at $3.46.

In other news, energy company AGL is to buy the Gloucester methane project, north of Newcastle, in NSW, for $370 million in cash from Molopo Australia and AJ Lucas Group.

At 1224 AEDT, AGL shares were up 15 cents to $15.26. Molopo had risen seven cents to 72 cents, and AJ Lucas was 64 cents higher at $4.49.

Gaming group Crown Ltd has raised $300 million after a share placement.

Crown shares had lost 24 cents, or 4.41 per cent, at $5.20.

Australian Agricultural Co says a fall in beef prices due to the global financial crisis will result in the company posting an earnings loss for calendar 2008.

Shares in the beef producer were up 5.5 cents, or 3.31 per cent, at $1.715.

Among the retailers, Woolworths was up 50 cents, or 1.98 per cent, to $25.73, David Jones was down two cents to $2.96 and Coles owner Wesfarmers was up 59 cents, or 3.57 per cent, at $17.12.

At 1228 AEDT, Telstra was the most traded stock, with 51.6 million shares changing hands for a value of $190.8 million.

Telstra shares were up eight cents to $3.62.

Market turnover was 656.5 million shares, worth $2.09 billion, with 446 stocks up, 296 stocks were down and 242 were unchanged.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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