Can the ASX bounce back in afternoon trade?

The ASX is off to a weak start today, with the S&P/ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) down 0.23% at midday.

The lacklustre morning session on the ASX is despite Wall Street closing at new record highs overnight, with the S&P 500 briefly surpassing the 1,900 mark, for the first time ever. US stock gains were achieved despite a weaker than expected data reading on Retail Sales from the Commerce Department, which showed a rise of just 0.1% in April.

Investors are still wading through the finer details of last night’s Federal Budget, but early consensus appears to be that there was little to either worry, or cheer about, from the market’s point of view.

Two of the major banks are trading ex-dividend today, which has dragged down the financial sector. Health care, materials and consumer staples are also all lower.

Here are the top five best performing stocks in the index, at midday:

  • Transfield Services Limited (ASX: TSE) has jumped 7.4% to $1.15
  • Cover-More Group Ltd Ltd (ASX: CVO) has gained 3.7% to $2.39
  • Virtus Health Ltd (ASX: VRT) has risen 3.2% to $8.06
  • Pacific Brands Limited (ASX: PBG) has climbed 3% to $0.52
  • PanAust Limited (ASX: PNA) is up 2.8% to $2.18

These are the five worst performing stocks at midday today:

  • Primary Health Care Limited (ASX: PRY) has dropped 5.7% to $4.50
  • Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL) has slipped 4.4% to $17.48
  • CSR Limited (ASX: CSR) has fallen 4% to $3.37
  • Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX: MGX) is down 3% to $0.75
  • Sirius Resources N.L. (ASX: SIR) has lost 2.9% to $2.96

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Motley Fool contributor Tim McArthur owns shares in Pacific Brands Ltd and Primary Health Care Ltd.

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