SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market was lower, but has limited its losses since Australia posted the biggest monthly trade surplus in its history.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 48 points, or 0.70 per cent, to 6770 at 1200 AEDT on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 51.9 points, or 0.73 per cent, at 7016.

The sectors with the biggest losses were health and materials, down 2.98 and 2.02 per cent respectively.

BHP and Rio Tinto traded ex-dividend.

Consumer staples was next weakest, down 1.82 per cent.

The heavyweight financials sector led the gains, up 0.94 per cent.

Earlier, US markets were lower as investors continued to sell the big technology companies and moved to sectors more likely to benefit from coronavirus vaccines and looming fiscal stimulus.

The S&P 500 dropped 50.57 points, or 1.3 per cent to 3,819.72. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 121.43 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 31,270.09. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite lost 361.04 points, or 2.7 per cent, to 12,997.75.

At 1130 AEDT, Australia posted a trade balance of goods and services of $10.1 billion for January.

Exports jumped six per cent jump, while imports declined two per cent.

Economists had forecast a surplus of around $6 billion.

The ASX200 was trading at 6747.2 moments before the news, and has improved since.

The Aussie dollar was trading at 77.66 US cents prior to the figures, and also continued to trade higher.

Retail spending also rose by 0.5 per cent in January to $30.5 billion, a shade below the 0.6 per cent increase reported in earlier preliminary data.

On the ASX, Myer has posted a massive lift in interim profit after a surge in online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic helped offset a fall in foot traffic.

Net profit for the first half of 2020/21 was $43 million, up 76.3 per cent, compared to the previous corresponding period.

Investors were unimpressed and sent shares lower by 12.1 per cent to 29 cents.

Insurer QBE has named the boss of UK insurer Beazley, Andrew Horton, as its next chief executive.

After the market closed on Wednesday, the insurer said Mr Horton would join after 13 years running the UK-listed insurer, which trades across most continents.

He receives up to $4 million in company shares for joining, and $500,000 in cash in February next year.

Mr Horton will be paid about $1.8 million per year.

Shares were higher by 2.96 per cent to $9.55.

Financial software provider Xero said it will buy human resources software provider Planday.

The purchase will cost 183.5 million pounds.

Xero said Planday was an open platform which will integrate with its own one.

Shares were lower by 2.2 per cent to $116.38.

In mining, BHP was down 2.75 per cent to $49.47, Fortescue declined by 2.45 per cent to $22.28 and Rio Tinto dropped 5.12 per cent to $123.10.

In banking, ANZ was the standout of the major banks and rose by 2.41 per cent to $28.22.

The dollar was buying 77.81 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 78.22 US cents at Wednesday’s close.