Investors have eased off the Australian share market, which was little changed, after discouraging economic data from the US.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 7.1 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6676.2 at 1200 AEDT on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries was lower by 4.5 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 6883.7.

Financials, materials, energy and industrials all slipped by less than one per cent.

Utilities was the best sector, higher by 1.43 per cent.

The lull in trade comes after the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indices in the US closed lower after reports showed the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid jumped last week to the highest level in more than a month.

Meanwhile Australian coal worth more than $700 million is being held up at Chinese ports because of apparent problems with environmental standards.

Dozens of bulk carriers have been stuck off the Chinese coast for months due to safety and quality inspections that appear to be aimed squarely at Australian exports.

The coal delays are the latest in a string of Chinese trade strikes against Australian products, with diplomatic relations in the deep freeze over a laundry list of grievances.

Whitehaven Coal was lower by 4.51 per cent to $1.48.

Business investment fell again in the September quarter as a hangover from the pandemic, but firms have upgraded spending plans for this financial year.

Private capital expenditure dropped three per cent in the September quarter to $25.9 billion, double the decline economists had been expecting.

However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed investment plans have been upgraded to almost $105 billion for the 2020/21 financial year, 6.3 per cent higher than estimated three months ago.

On the ASX, Bega Cheese will buy Lion Dairy & Drinks for $534 million, and raise $401 million from a share sale to fund the purchase.

Bega executive chair Barry Irvin said the buy would expand the company’s range of products, and give it more manufacturing and distribution resources.

Japanese company Kirin owns Lion, and the latter produces milk drinks, yoghurt, juices, cream and custard.

Bega has stopped its shares trading while it prepares the share sale.

Property group Stockland has named Lendlease chief financial officer Tarun Gupta as its next chief executive.

Mr Gupta will start the job on June 1 and take over from Mark Steinert, who has been in the role since 2013.

Shares were higher by 2.96 per cent to $4.69.

Logistics software developer WiseTech Global said earnings for its financial year are expected to grow between 22 and 42 per cent to between $155 million and $180 million.

Chief executive Richard White told an annual general meeting said there had been a recovery in users of its CargoWise program, however he remained cautious due to COVID-19.

Shares were higher by 1.9 per cent to $30.68.

In banking, NAB fared the worst of the big four. It was down 1.51 per cent to $23.68.

Miners were not faring as badly. BHP slipped 0.35 per cent to $39.32, Rio Tinto shed 0.82 per cent to $103.42 and Fortescue lost 0.59 per cent to $18.49.

In the US earlier, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 173.77 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 29,872.47, the S&P 500 lost 5.76 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 3,629.65 and the Nasdaq Composite added 57.08 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 12,094.40.

The Aussie dollar was buying 73.66 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 73.52 US cents at Wednesday’s close.