Australian shares have opened lower dragged down by falls in energy and mining stocks and after Wall Street backed off from record levels they reached last week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 0.5 per cent at 6,044.2 points after the first half-hour of trade on Tuesday with all sectors weaker, except for telco stocks.

CMC Markets chief analyst Ric Spooner said local shares were following cues from the US, where the Dow Jones index slipped more than 100 points thanks to a 2.6 per cent fall in Apple shares after a report said demand for the iPhone X was waning.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.39 per cent to 26,512.56, the S&P 500 lost 0.39 per cent to 2,861.65 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.32 per cent to 7,481.92.

Mr Spooner said local mining stocks were weighing on the market following the release of a number of company quarterly reports.

‘We are seeing some weakness in the mining sector and that again is fairly neutral and not really on commodities,’ Mr Spooner said.

‘I think that investors are probably going to be waiting on final reports now and I suspect that we will not get too bearish over the next few days unless something very major comes out.’

Rio Tinto lost 0.3 per cent to $78.87 and BHP fell 0.6 per cent to $30.55 but Fortescue Metals rose 1.6 per cent to $5.17 despite reporting an eight per cent fall in iron ore shipments while cash costs for its second quarter also dropped.

Gold miner Evolution’s shares sank 1.3 per cent to $2.725 after it said it is on track to ‘comfortably’ meet its full-year guidance, despite a fall in gold production in the December quarter after it sold a mine in Western Australia.

Shares in Newcrest were 1.8 per cent lower to $22.59 despite a 17.2 per cent increase in gold production in the December quarter, driven by increased production at four of its mines.

Energy stocks were also weaker after oil prices fell, pressured by a strengthening US dollar and rising US crude output, after a month of strong gains.

Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Santos were trading between one per cent and 1.2 per cent lower.

The big four banks were all lower, with Westpac losing the most ground, down 0.4 per cent to $30.98.

And, shares in Sirtex Medical have been placed in a trading halt ahead of what the cancer treatment specialist called a ‘potential material corporate transaction’.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar is slightly higher thanks to support from strength in base metals prices.

At 1030 AEDT on Tuesday, the local unit was worth 80.98 US cents, up from 80.89 cents on Monday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 31.2 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 6,044.2 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 29.9 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 6,157.7 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was down 24 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 5,986 points

* National turnover was 779.4 million securities traded worth $455.3 million