News: Midday: Aus shares defy weak lead

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    The Australian share market has shaken off negative leads from overseas markets with mining and energy stocks posting strong gains to take the local bourse 0.42 per cent higher at noon. 
    The S&P/ASX 200 index is 25 points up at 5,614. On the futures market the SPI is 19 points higher. 
    Economic news

    The CoreLogic RP Data Home Values Index shows combined capital city house prices continue to rise, up 1.3 per cent in January. Melbourne house prices lead the way up 2.7 per cent, dark horse Hobart posted a 1.6 per cent increase whilst Sydney was also a standout, up 1.4 per cent. Darwin, Adelaide and Perth reported declines over the month. 
    Company news
    Transurban Group Limited (ASX:TCL) has achieved financial close on the NorthConnex project in Sydney, New South Wales. An unsolicited proposal to the NSW Government nearly three years ago has resulted in the $2.9 billion contract for the construction of twin tunnels to link the M1 and M2 Motorways. The link is expected to take 5000 trucks a day off the Pennant Hills Road. The design and construction contract has been awarded to a joint venture between Lend Lease and a French infrastructure firm. Along with the Westlink M7, NorthConnex will be owned by an umbrella entity, North West Roads Group, 50 per cent owned by Transurban. Shares in Transurban are trading up 0.43 per cent at $9.25. 
    Biotech company Bionomics Limited (ASX:BNO) will undergo trials of its BNC210 drug for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Tests will take place in France with 50 male volunteers and hopes are that the drug will remain devoid of the considerable side effects shown by current treatments. A phase 2 study will commence as well with data anticipated by September this year. Bionomics hopes the trials will result in a good case for partnering agreements. Shares in Bionomics are trading flat at $0.42.
    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector is energy, gaining 1.8 per cent to 11,047. Shares in Horizon Oil have risen 10 per cent and are trading at $0.14. Shares in Drillsearch and Senex Energy are also stronger. 
    The worst performing sector is telco services, falling 0.4 per cent to 2,251. Shares in iiNet have fallen 2.27 per cent, trading at $7.33. Shares in Singapore Telecom and Vocus Communications are also lower. 
    Gold and the dollar

    Gold is trading at $US1,281 an ounce.
    The Australian dollar is buying 77.82 US cents.
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