The Australian share market remains low at noon with losses across the board after a muted morning trading session.
At 1200 AEST on Wednesday the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 14.2 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 5656.8, with the heavyweight financial and mining sectors lower despite small gains for ANZ and Westpac among the banks and iron ore players Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals also in positive territory.
Overnight, US markets ended nearly flat after comments from US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen boosted expectations of a December rate hike.
Dr Yellen said the US Fed needed to continue gradual rate hikes and it would be imprudent to leave rates on hold until inflation reached the Fed's two per cent target.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.05 per cent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.01 per cent.
In local company news, gambling houses Tabcorp and Tatts Group were down 2 per cent to $4.245 and 1.9 per cent to $3.985 respectively, after their proposed $11 billion merger was further delayed by the Australian Competition Tribunal setting hearing dates for its review in late October.
Energy shares remained mixed despite oil prices slipping overnight, with Woodside and Santos trading lower but Oil Search and Origin Energy showing slight gains.
Shares in AGL Energy were down 1.2 per cent to $22.77 as the power retailer, holding its AGM in Melbourne, outlined its plan to potentially replace generation from its ageing Liddell power station in NSW with a mix of renewables, battery storage, new gas-fired plants and an upgraded coal-fired plant.
Among the big four banks, NAB was flat at $31.33, ANZ and Westpac were each up 0.2 per cent at $29.92 and $31.955 respectively while CBA was down 0.3 per cent at $74.86.
The Australian dollar remained below 79 US cents against the US dollar, which gained following comments from Dr Yellen seen as hawkish on interest rates by the market.
The local currency was trading at 78.81 US cents at 1200 AEST, from 79.31 US cents on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* At 1200 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 14.2 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 5656.8 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 12.9 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 5716.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 18 points or 0.32 per cent at 5641 points
* National turnover was 1.4 billion securities traded worth $1.6 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.81 US cents, from 79.31 US cents on Tuesday
* 88.57 Japanese yen, from 88.51 yen
* 66.84 euro cents, from 66.95 euro cents
* 58.61 British pence, from 58.69 pence
* 109.32 NZ cents, from 109.65 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1200 AEST was $US1,295.09 per fine ounce, from $US1,308.94 per fine ounce on Tuesday
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0305pct, from 2.0297pct on Tuesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7317pct, from 2.7221pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.19 (implying a yield of 2.81pct), from 97.2 (2.8pct) on Tuesday
* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.82 (2.18pct), from 97.83 (2.17pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)