Australia Markets closed

Australian shares fall on choppy US lead

Simone Ziaziaris
The share market has lost ground as almost all sectors posted falls

Australian shares have opened marginally lower after US stocks handed back earlier gains to finish only slightly higher.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 and the broader All Ordinaries each fell 0.1 per cent to 6.127 points and 6,226.3 points, respectively, after the first half-hour of trade on Tuesday.

In the US, stocks ended an up and down session slightly higher as weakness in defensive stocks offset optimism following US President Donald Trump's conciliatory remarks toward China's ZTE Corp that calmed the waters of US-China trade tensions.

The Dow Jones index closed 0.27 per cent higher, the S&P 500 gained only 0.01 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.11 per cent.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said the local share market had pared back from recent gains after a soft lead from the US and as weakness from Telstra and National Australia Bank weighed on the index.

"The US markets did edge higher last night but we have just had six straight weeks of gains so we have had quite a positive run recently," Mr Daghlian said.

He said economic data due out of China at midday on Tuesday - including retail spending, production and investment figures - could potentially sway afternoon trading.

"Today is going to be quite busy on the economic front and that can be an impact on the market," Mr Daghlian told AAP.

The big four banks were mixed on Tuesday morning, with National Australia Bank trading ex-dividend dragging its share price down 2.8 per cent to $27.68.

Fellow lenders Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ were all higher, while wealth management giant AMP rose 0.4 per cent to $3.865, despite being hit with a third class action over the scandals revealed at the banking royal commission.

Telstra shares, which on Monday sank after the telco giant warned tough competition and the NBN are putting a squeeze on earnings that will persist into next year, fell a further 2.6 per cent to $2.96.

But the technology sector bucked the downward trend and was stronger driven by a more than eight per cent lift in Link Group.

Link shares were worth $7.34 after the fund administrator said the federal government's attempt to reunite people with funds languishing in unused superannuation accounts would have cost it as much as $55 million in revenue if it had been enacted this year.

In other company news, Ruralco lifted first-half profit 29 per cent to $16.1 million despite tough trading conditions in the live export business.

Ruralco shares were up 3.4 per cent to $3.195.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is lower against a stronger US counterpart which rose slightly overnight.

At 1030 AEST, the local currency was worth 75.28 US cents, from 75.47 US cents on Monday.

ON THE ASX AT 1030 AEST:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 8.3 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,127 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 8.7 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,226.3 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up two points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,124 points

* National turnover was 638.5 million securities traded worth $550.5 million