Shares are expected to start lower on the Australian market after a negative lead from Wall Street following disappointing financial results and worries about a US coronavirus stimulus plan.

The Australian SPI 200 futures contract was lower by 26.0 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 5960.0 points at 0800 AEST on Wednesday.

Overnight, several major US companies reported earnings that fell short of analysts’ already lowered expectations as the coronavirus pandemic stole customers away and increased some costs.

Conglomerate 3M fell 4.8 per cent after it reported a second-quarter plunge in demand across its businesses and McDonald’s Corp fell 2.5 per cent after a surprisingly big drop in global same-store sales.

The US Federal Reserve also began a two-day meeting on interest rates, with an announcement scheduled for Thursday AEST. Investors largely expect the central bank to keep short-term rates at their record low.

The S&P 500 fell 0.6 per cent to 3,218.44 after a last-hour slide, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.8 per cent to 26,379.28 and the Nasdaq composite lost 1.3 per cent to 10,402.09.

In Australia today, investors will be watching for inflation data for the June quarter.

Economists expect Australia’s key inflation measure, the consumer price index, will drop about 2.0 per cent on the back of lower fuel prices and free childcare amid the pandemic.

A 2.0 per cent drop would be the biggest quarterly fall since records began in 1948 and would take the annual rate negative for the first time since 1997.

Mining giant Rio Tinto is also set to unveil its half year results after market hours.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was buying 71.56 US cents at 0800 AEST, higher from 71.32 US cents at Tuesday’s close.