Every sector of the Australian share market is lower amid uncertainty sparked by the firing of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and reports of possible new US tariffs on Chinese goods.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.75 per cent at 5,967.9 points at 1200 AEDT, following a Wall Street retreat on US President Donald Trump's firing of Tillerson and concerns about tariffs on some imports from China.
The financial sector was one of the worst performers on the local market, as National Australia Bank faces a grilling at the financial services royal commission.
NAB was down 1.2 per cent, the biggest fall by any of the big four banks, with Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank posting falls of between 0.6 and 0.8 per cent.
Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals were rare gainers among the top 200 companies - up 0.4 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively - but BHP Billiton was down 0.6 per cent in a materials sector that was down about half a per cent overall.
Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum was down 0.3 per cent and Santos had fallen 1.4 per cent after oil prices fell overnight.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that showed commercial loans - including mortgages to investors - remained steady at $43 billion in January had little effect on markets.
The Australian dollar is slightly weaker against the US dollar amid the uncertainty caused by the Tillerson sacking, after earlier rising on the back of subdued US inflation figures.
ON THE ASX AT 1200 AEDT:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 44.9 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 5,967.9 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 41.2 points, or 0.68 per cent, at 6,035.9 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 38 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 5,930 points
* National turnover was 1.8 billion securities traded worth $2.1 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.65 US cents, from 78.72 US cents on Tuesday
* 83.89 Japanese yen, from 84.06 yen
* 63.45 euro cents, from 63.86 euro cents
* 56.26 British pence, from 56.68 pence
* 107.23 NZ cents, from 107.53 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1200 AEDT was $US1,324.93 per fine ounce, from $US1,320.08 per fine ounce on Tuesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9924pct, from 2.0271pct on Tuesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7069pct, from 2.7599pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.255 (implying a yield of 2.745pct), from 97.203 (2.797pct) on Tuesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.895 (2.105pct), from 97.850 (2.150pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)