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Energy, resource stocks drag market lower

The Australian share market has kicked off the trading session lower, due to renewed pressure on resource and energy companies, including Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Woodside Petroleum.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.18 per cent at 1025 AEDT following falls in commodity and oil prices overnight, bucking slight gains on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.12 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.21 per cent.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy says lower commodities prices are weighting heavily on the materials index, which is down nearly two per cent.

Resource giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are under pressure for a second consecutive day, down $1.24, or 2.05 per cent, to $59.15 and 63 cents, or 2.47 per cent, to $24.83, respectively.

Energy companies Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy have also lost further ground following a near-four per cent fall in oil prices overnight and possible production cut news from the OPEC meeting later on Wednesday.

"There's a lot of doubt. Talking to oil traders they laugh at the idea that OPEC would form an agreement that the markets would believe.

"The very best scenario for those who are bullish on oil prices is that they'll announce an agreement but within 12 months they'll all be breaching it," Mr McCarthy said.

Woodside lost 43 cents, or 1.42 per cent, to $29.91, Oil Search fell 6.5 cents, or 0.98 per cent, to $6.55 and Origin Energy slipped 6.5 cents, or 1.08 per cent, to $5.97.

However, the banking sector is up for a second day, with the nation's biggest bank, Commonwealth Bank, up 27.5 cents at $78.03.

ANZ rose 12 cents to $28.21, National Australia Bank gained three cents to $28.79, while Westpac was flat at $31.20.


* At 1025 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 9.9 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 5,447.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 10.6 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 5,509.9 points.

* The December share price index futures contract was down 12 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 5,450 points, with 7,806 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 889.7 million securities traded, worth $704.2 million.