Australia’s share market dropped to being flat after retail sales figures for September showed a surprise drop in trade.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was up by 1.2 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 6185.8 at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries was better by 0.1 points, or 0 per cent, to 6396.9.
The indices were higher at 1130 AEDT but investors appeared surprised by September retail figures which showed sales fell 1.5 per cent on the previous month.
Westpac analysts expected a 0.5 per cent improvement.
Food, household goods and other retailing – which includes online-only traders – recorded falls. Clothing, footwear and personal accessories also fell.
Job advertisements posted on the internet jumped 6.4 per cent in September, including a notable 11.9 per cent surge in Victoria after two months of falls during its COVID-19 lockdown.
However, over the year job ads still remain down 12.2 per cent, figures released by the Department of Employment show.
Meanwhile on the virus front, AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial in the United States is expected to resume as early as this week after the US Food and Drug Administration completed its review of a serious illness.
The late-stage trial has been on hold since September 6, after a participant in the company’s UK trial fell ill with what was suspected to be a rare spinal inflammatory disorder called transverse myelitis.
On the ASX, energy was the top sector, up by 1.32 per cent.
Oil Search was one of the best big names, higher by 2.8 per cent to $2.93.
Financials was better by 0.54 per cent, while materials was flat.
ANZ had a 1.34 per cent rise to $19.58, the Commonwealth gained 0.31 per cent to $69.36, NAB climbed 1.3 per cent to $19.44 and Westpac was up by 0.4 per cent to $18.58.
In mining, BHP crept up by 0.3 per cent to $36.01, Rio Tinto was better by 0.88 per cent to $94.96 while Fortescue lost 0.59 per cent to $16.82.
Shares have plunged in one of the share market success stories of the pandemic, online furniture trader Temple & Webster, after shareholders were disappointed by a trading update.
Chief executive Mark Coulter told an annual general meeting that first quarter EBITDA was $8.6 million, which was more than the EBITDA for the previous financial year.
Yet the figures were not enough for shareholders, who sent the share price down by 14.46 per cent to $12.00.
Earlier in the US, markets closed higher on growing optimism US lawmakers are nearing a deal on a stimulus package aimed at cushioning the economic shock from the coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump says he is willing to accept a large aid bill despite opposition from his own Republican Party.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 113.37 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 28,308.79, the S&P 500 ended 16.2 points higher, or 0.47 per cent, to 3,443.12 and the Nasdaq Composite closed 37.51 points higher, or 0.33 per cent, to 11,516.49.
The Aussie dollar was buying 70.63 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 70.39 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.