RTTNews - The Australian stock market opened weak on Wednesday as the overnight decline on Wall Street and caution ahead of the outcome of the crucial U.S. Federal Open Market Committee meeting resulted in some selling in early trading. However, with select financials, healthcare and consumer staples stocks finding good support at lower levels, the market has wiped off most of the early losses in subsequent trades.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which briefly emerged into positive territory after a fall to 4,294.5, is currently trading at 4,330.1, down 1.9 points from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down by 0.3 points at 4,334.1.

On Tuesday, the S&P/ASX200 index had ended stronger by 27.9 points or 0.65% at 4,332.0 while the All Ordinaries index moved up by 25.2 points or 0.6% to 4,334.4.

In the banking space, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is currently up by over 1% and Westpac is trading 0.8% up. ANZ Bank, despite paring some losses, is trading in the red with a 1.3% loss, while National Australia Bank is down by 1%.

Mining majors BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are off their lows. Most of the other stocks in the materials space are also seen edging up from their morning lows now.

Aevum Ltd reported an annual net loss of A$12.2 million, but the company has refrained from providing earnings guidance for 2009/10 because of abnormal market conditions. The firm had posted a net profit of A$28.55 million for the year 2007/08. The stock is trading 0.7% down from its previous close.

Stockland Group has posted a massive annual loss after the global economic downturn forced it to downgraded the value of its investment properties and book impairment charges. The firm's net loss for the year ended June 30 was A$1.80 billion, compared to a profit of A$704.6 million in the previous year. The full year underlying result before re-evaluations was a profit of A$631.4 million, a decline of 6.3%. The stock is currently trading nearly 3% down.

Global share registry operator Computershare Ltd says it is likely to maintain its management earnings level this financial year after posting a 9.3% fall in 2008/09 net profit. The company announced a net profit of US$255.73 million for the year to June 30, 2009, on a 4.5% drop in revenue to US$1.5 billion. The company notched up its sixth consecutive year of management earnings per share growth, which grew one per cent to 52.11 cents during the financial year. The stock is currently trading lower by around 0.8%.

In economic news, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index rose 4.0 index points in August to 113.4 points. The 3.7 per cent increase in the month lifted the index to its highest level since October 2007, when it reached 115.3 points.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its labour price index data for the June quarter today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened at a near-two week low today as investors, treading a cautious path ahead of a U.S. central bank meeting, sold growth assets such as equities and commodity-driven currencies. In early trading this morning, the Aussie was quoting at US$0.8291/94, down 0.97% from Tuesday's close of US$0.8372/75. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.8296 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Singapore and Korea are trading notably lower, while New Zealand is up modestly over its previous close. Stock markets across the region had largely turned in strong performances on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, stocks drifted lower on Tuesday with traders going in for profit taking ahead of key economic data due out in the second half of the week. On the economic front, traders largely shrugged off the Labor Department's report showing a much bigger than expected increase in productivity in the second quarter.

The Dow closed down by 96.50 points or 1% at 9,241.45, the Nasdaq slipped by 22.51 points or 1.1% to 1,969.73 and the S&P 500 drifted down by 12.75 points or 1.3% to 994.35.

Major European markets closed notably lower on Tuesday, with the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index finishing down by 1.4% and 1.1% respectively, while the German DAX index closed 2.4% down.

Crude oil prices finished below US$70 per barrel on Tuesday as traders braced for what is expected to be a bearish inventory report. Lower stocks also raised concerns for energy demand. Light sweet crude for September delivery settled at US$69.45, down US$1.15 on the session.

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