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News: Midday: ASX rally rolls on for 12th session



  1. The Australian share market rally has continued to roll on and the local benchmark is trading higher for its twelfth straight session. Local traders have taken the lead from Wall Street, lifting more than 1 per cent on the back of a higher oil price and deal making. 
     
    The benchmark has however moved off its highs following construction data and the Reserve Bank of Australia’s quarterly monetary policy statement. Just days after cutting the key cash rate today’s statement has lowered the nation’s outlook for inflation and growth.  
     
    Across the sectors most are trading higher, led by strength in the energy, mining and health sectors. 
     
    Figures 
     
    The S&P/ASX 200 index has gained 12 points and is trading at 5,823. On the futures market the SPI is 14 points higher. 
     
    Economic news
     
    Australia’s construction activity improved at the beginning of this year but still remains in contraction territory for the third straight month. The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association's Performance of Construction Index added 1.5 points to 45.9 in January from 44.4 the month before. 50 is the level separating expansion from contraction.  
     
    Company news
     
    Shares in Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) have lifted after posting improved profits and tying up the acquisition of Tigerair Australia. Australia’s second largest carrier generated an underlying pre-tax profit of $55.3 million in the second quarter of the current financial year, following a loss in the first quarter. The company now owns Tigerair Australia after inking a deal with Tiger Airways Holdings in October to buy the remaining shares it does not already own for $1. Shares in Virgin Australia have lifted 2.81 per cent and are trading at $0.46 at noon. 
     
    Shares in OzForex Group Limited (ASX:OFX) have slipped after announcing its CEO and Managing Director will leave the company. The online foreign exchange group has advised Neil Helm will be stepping down after seven and a half years in the top job. Oz Forex says Mr Helm will remain in the role until a successor is appointed and a departure date will be advised in due course. Shares in OzForex Group have slipped 4.49 per cent and are trading at $2.34 at noon. 
     
    Best and worst performers
     
    The best performing sector is energy, surging 1.4 per cent to 11,604. Shares in Senex Energy Limited (ASX:SXY) have risen 6.25 per cent and trading at $0.38. Shares in Sundance Energy Australia Limited (ASX:SEA) and Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (ASX:LNG) are also stronger. 
     
    The worst performing sector is real estate investment trusts, falling 0.5 per cent to 1,337. Shares in GPT Group (ASX:GPT) have dropped 1.84 per cent, trading at $4.80. Shares in BWP Trust (ASX:BWP) and Westfield Corporation Limited (ASX:WFD) are also lower. 
     
    Gold and the dollar
     
    Gold is buying $US1,265 an ounce. 
    The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7837.

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