Business

ASX, AUD lift on US mid-term election day

The ASX is set to edge higher, with investors cautious ahead of US mid-term election results. (AAP)

The Australian share market is down at lunch, with the financial sector trimming back earlier gains.

Energy and materials stocks have dragged the Australian share market lower at lunch, while the banks pared back earlier gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 20.2 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 5855.0 at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 0.32 per cent.

The Australian dollar continued to strengthen, buying 72.54 US cents from 72.16 on Tuesday.

Stocks rose on Wall Street overnight as strong earnings and easing of trade tensions lifted materials and industrial sectors, but trading volumes were light amid uncertainty about the outcome of the mid-term vote.

However, falling oil and metals prices look to have taken a toll on local commodity-based stocks.

Mining shares ate away at Tuesday's gains to drag on the market through the morning, with BHP down 0.9 per cent to $33.25 and Rio Tinto down 0.33 per cent to $80.98.

BlueScope Steel slipped, losing 1.8 per cent to $14.055.

Iluka Resources, and gold miners Evolution, St Barbara and Northern Star were rare bright spots, each posting modest gains.

Local energy stocks matched a dip in global oil prices, with Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin, and Oil Search Ltd each down between 0.5 and one per cent.

The banks weakened in morning trade but were still in the black with ANZ leading gains for the major lenders, up nearly one per cent to $26.41.

Rival Westpac were up half a per cent to $27.05 after announcing it would trim bonuses for senior staff, including a 30 per cent bonus cut for chief executive Brian Hartzer.

NAB and Commonwealth climbed 0.5 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

Commonwealth Bank's first-quarter unaudited cash profit fell 5.7 per cent to $2.5 billion, with higher funding costs and competition for borrowers putting pressure on margins.

Meanwhile, Bega Cheese shares were down 1.1 per cent after it announced plans to vote in favour of selling its stake in Capilano Honey Ltd to a China-focused consortium.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch