(RTTNews.com) - The Australian stock market is edging lower on Wednesday in choppy trade despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street, with investors treading cautiously ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.
Investors are also looking ahead to a speech by U.S.Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell later in the day. Weakness in mining stocks was offset by gains in oil and bank stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 5.30 points or 0.09 percent to 5,723.00, after rising to a high of 5,737.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 2.70 points or 0.05 percent to 5,800.10. Australian shares recovered from a weak start to close higher on Tuesday.
The major miners are mostly lower as copper prices declined, while iron ore prices rose. Rio Tinto is losing more than 2 percent and BHP is down more than 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is rising more than 1 percent.
Gold miners are also weak after gold prices dipped overnight. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are lower by more than 1 percent each.
Meanwhile, oil stocks are mostly higher even as crude oil prices edged lower overnight. Woodside Petroleum is advancing almost 1 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.2 percent, while Santos is lower by 0.6 percent.
In the banking sector, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher by 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent, while ANZ Banking is down 0.2 percent.
AMP confirmed it is facing A$778 million in remediation costs over its fees-for-no-service scandal and is expanding its internal investigation. The financial services provider's shares are losing more than 4 percent.
CSR announced the sale of its troubled Viridian Glass business for A$155 million as well as the sale of a site at Dendenong, both to Crescent Capital Partners. The construction material supplier's shares are advancing 1 percent.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total value of construction work done in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 2.8 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2018, coming in at A$53.143 billion. That missed expectations for an increase of 1.0 percent following the 1.6 percent gain in the three months prior.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7229, down from $0.7234 on Tuesday.
On Wall Street, stocks recovered from an initial move to the downside to close higher on Tuesday. The initial pullback on Wall Street reflected renewed skepticism about a trade deal between the U.S. and China following President Donald Trump's comments in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Comments from top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow about trade talks with the Chinese government "at all levels" contributed to the subsequent recovery by the markets.
The Nasdaq inched up just 0.85 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 7,082.70, while the Dow climbed 108.49 points or 0.4 percent to 24,748.73 and the S&P 500 rose 8.75 points or 0.3 percent to 2,682.20.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices edged lower on Tuesday. WTI crude oil futures for January ended down $0.07 or 0.1 percent at $51.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, well off the session's low of $50.31.
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