RTTNews - After moving higher following a fairly steady start, the Australian market has drifted down into the red on Wednesday with participants resorting to sales in some front line counters. With Wall Street closing on a flat note and investors choosing to wait for the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's review meet, trading has been lackluster this morning.

A few stocks from energy, materials and healthcare sectors are trading firm with sharp gains. Bank stocks are mostly seen struggling for support. Industrials and utilities are also exhibiting weakness.

The benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which rose to 3,812 earlier this morning, is currently trading at 3,781, down nearly 16 points from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down by 14 points at 3,779.

On Tuesday, the S&P/ASX 200 had ended down 121.9 points or 3.1% at 3,797. The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 117.8 points or 3.01% at 3,793.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank is up with a modest gain. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are trading lower by 1%-1.5%.

Among materials majors, Rio Tinto is up by over 2.5%, while BHP Billiton is trading modestly higher. Fortescue Metal, Bluescope, Santos and Lihir Gold are trading in positive territory with notable gains.

In company news, Rex Minerals has entered into new agreements with the Titeline drilling group, which, combined with the remainder of the existing drilling contract, will provide Rex with two drill rigs over the next 12 months. The drilling services will be paid for through a combination of cash and shares. The agreements continue the positive long term relationship that the two companies have established since 2007.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher on Wednesday, as the U.S. dollar struggled a bit under the pressure of dire economic predictions for the year ahead. Earlier this morning, the unit was trading at US$0.7937/39, up from Tuesday's close of US$0.7834/38, its weakest level since May 28. The Australian dollar is currently trading at 0.7944 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Singapore and Korea are currently trading higher. The New Zealand market is trading in negative territory.

On Tuesday, stocks ended little changed on Wall Street after a choppy ride. Volumes were thin as traders mostly stayed on the sidelines ahead of release of the Federal Reserve's outlook on interest rates. A lower than expected rise in existing homes sales also weighed in to an extent.

The major averages finished on opposite sides of the unchanged mark by only mild margins, unable to sustain any notable moves on the day. While the S&P 500 finished up by 2.06 points or 0.2 percent at 895.10, the Dow slipped by 16.10 points or 0.2 percent to 8,322.91, and the Nasdaq dropped by 1.27 points or 0.1 percent to 1,764.92.

Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had ended Tuesday's session with steep losses. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed down 2.8 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 2.9 percent.

Major European markets finished the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slipped by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively, while the German DAX eked out a 0.3 percent gain.

Oil jumped higher on Tuesday as investors looked ahead to the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory report, which is expected to show a drop in stockpiles on Wednesday. Light sweet crude for August delivery rose to US$69.24 per barrel, up US$ 1.74 on the session. Prices rallied as high as US$69.68 after falling as low as US$ 66.37.

With more economic news to follow and the outcome of the Federal Open Market Committee's meeting due, the mood is likely to be cautious on Wednesday.

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