News: Midday: ASX climbs ahead of RBA rate decision

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    Following positive leads from most overseas markets and another gain in the oil price overnight the Australian share market opened sharply higher and is 0.33 per cent up at noon. 
    However, better than expected economic figures are strengthening the case against a rate cut by the RBA later today with the market giving up more than half of its early gains directly after they were released. 
    The S&P/ASX 200 index is 17 points up at 5,643. On the futures market the SPI is 18 points higher. 
    Economic news

    Better than expected figures from the ABS on the trade deficit today. The trade gap between imports and exports came in at $436 million in December, down from $925 million in November and more than analyst expectations of $850 million. 
    The ANZ-Roy Morgan Institute has reported that consumer confidence has dipped slightly in spite of cheaper petrol prices. The index was down 0.7 per cent to 112.4 ahead of today’s RBA decision on interest rates. The survey revealed that the prospects of rate cuts this year failed to inspire confidence and subdued labour market conditions are weighing on consumer minds. 

    Company news

    Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT) has today revealed that first half profit is down by 13 per cent due to write downs and reaffirmed full year guidance. A restructuring of the US business incurred nearly $4 million in costs. Excluding the write downs, revenue was up by 14% on the back of strong growth in University and Professional and English programs. The company says it is on track for a full year profit of between $162 million and $172 million. 
    Investors didn’t take the news well and shares are down 4.57 per cent to $5.01. 
    Intueri Education Group Limited (ASX:IQE) will acquire Information Technology Training Institute for $1.1 million. The New Zealand bases training institute provides internationally recognised computer and IT qualifications and will lay a foundation for Intueri’s entry into IT education. The deal is subject to conditions with 90 per cent settlement on completion. Shares in Intueri are trading flat at $2.76. 
    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector is energy, gaining 3.9 per cent to 11,474. Shares in Senex Energy have risen 13.16 per cent and are trading at $0.32. Shares in Beach Energy and Drillsearch are also stronger. 
    The worst performing sector is healthcare, falling nearly 1 per cent to 17,830. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceuticals have fallen 2.44 per cent, trading at $0.80. Shares in Ansell and Sonic Healthcare are also lower. 
    Gold and the dollar

    Gold is trading at $US1,274 an ounce.
    The Australian dollar is buying 78.03 US cents.
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