SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market has dipped and most sectors are lower ahead of US Federal Reserve decisions and commentary from its meeting.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 47.1 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 6780 at 1200 AEDT.
The index on Tuesday closed above 6800 points for the first time in more than a week.
The All Ordinaries on Wednesday was lower by 45.5 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 7033.5.
The heavyweight materials sector fell 1.5 per cent, while energy fell 1.44 per cent.
Another weighty sector, financials, dropped 0.62 per cent.
US markets closed mostly lower prior to results of the US central bank’s two-day policy meeting.
Wall Street has recently benefited from optimism about a $US1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus package and vaccination drives that have bolstered views that the economy is on a path to recovery.
At the same time, fears about an overheating economy and a recent increase in interest rates have increased scrutiny on the Fed’s meeting.
The S&P 500 dropped 6.23 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 3,962.71. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 127.51 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 32,825.95. The Nasdaq bucked the trend and gained 11.86 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 13,471.57.
In Australia, almost $26 billion will be paid to shareholders of ASX companies in the next few months.
The Commonwealth Bank found almost 80 per cent of ASX200 companies gave a dividend during the recent reporting season.
This was more than the $21.6 billion from the August reporting season, the bank said, but lower than the $27.5 billion paid in the February season last year.
New Zealand dairy co-operative Fonterra reported a first-half net loss of $NZ391 million and will sell its joint venture farms in China.
Boss Miles Hurrell said the company was also selling its own farms in China as part of focusing on New Zealand milk.
Shareholders will receive an interim dividend for the six months to January 31 of five NZ cents per share.
Fonterra shares were higher by 0.64 per cent to $4.68.
Westpac said it was bringing together the leadership of its consumer and business divisions.
The combined division, called consumer and business banking, will be headed by consumer chief executive Chris de Bruin.
Chief executive of the business division, Guil Lima, will leave Westpac.
Shares were down 0.4 per cent to $24.63.
Westpac was best of the big four, which all had losses of less than one per cent.
The miners varied. BHP lost 1.79 per cent to $46.00, Fortescue was higher by 0.04 per cent to $20.53 and Rio Tinto dropped 1.3 per cent to $111.39.
The Australian dollar was buying 77.35 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 77.52 US cents at Tuesday’s close.