Australian stocks are weaker, with falls among the major resources-linked sectors leading the broader market lower.
At 1021 AEDT on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 3.3 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 4,382.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had fallen 4.2 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,403.3 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was five points lower at 4,393 points, with 6,684 contracts traded.
Macquarie Private Wealth division director Lucinda Chan said the local market was trading in quiet conditions at the open.
Ms Chan said investors were on the sidelines amid ongoing negotiations between the White House and US Congress over a series of tax measures and government spending cuts which were due to automatically come into effect from January 2013.
"The market is a little bit sideways," Ms Chan said
"It looks like there is some sort of agreement, but there is a lot of detail that needs to be worked through, I think, at the end of the day."
Should they come into effect, the tax hikes and spending cuts are expected to push the US back into recession with a significant knock-on impact on the global economy.
Making news domestically on Monday, department store chain David Jones said sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 rose 0.3 per cent to $415.6 million, ending seven straight quarters of decline.
David Jones was down 1.5 cents at $2.555.
Metals and minerals stocks were down 1.29 per cent, according to IRESS data, while the materials sector - a big component of the local bourse - was down 0.35 per cent.
Wall Street closed flat with the Dow 0.06 per cent lower, but the S&P500 up 0.07 per cent and the NASDAQ 0.02 per cent higher.
The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,726.80 per fine ounce, down $US6.84 from Tuesday's local close of $US1,733.64 per ounce.
National turnover was 168.8 million securities worth $244.3 million, with 238 stocks up, 263 down and 251 unchanged.