• SYDNEY, AAP – Shares on the Australian market have eased from post-pandemic heights, and the banks and miners are lower.The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 25.9 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 7039.7 at 1200 AEST.

    The index on Monday had its best close since February 2020, and is a little more than 100 points from its record.

    The All Ordinaries on Tuesday was lower by 22.6 points, or 0.30 per cent, to 7305.4 points.

    Financial shares and health shares were down about half a per cent.

    Shares in materials were lower by 0.37 per cent despite iron ore prices being on the cusp of 10-year highs, according to Westpac. Iron ore was trading at $US175.5 per tonne (China port).

    The top sector was property, which rose 0.1 per cent.

    The downbeat mood comes after US markets closed lower.

    Investors waited for guidance from first-quarter earnings to justify high valuations, while Tesla shares fell after a fatal car crash.

    A Tesla vehicle believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat crashed into a tree and killed two passengers.

    The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index.

    In Australia, consumer confidence has barely changed as the potential benefits from a further drop in the unemployment rate were offset set by concern over the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

    The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan index eased just 0.1 per cent after a lofty 5.9 per cent rise in the previous week, remaining above its long-run average.

    On the ASX, Rio Tinto’s iron ore production in the West Australia Pilbara has fallen after wet weather and labour shortages impacted output.

    But the two per cent decline in the first quarter to 76.4 million tonnes, from the same period last year, won’t impact the resources giant’s optimistic full-year outlook.

    Iron ore shipments in the March quarter rose seven per cent 77.8 million tonnes.

    Shares were down 0.17 per cent to $120.64.

    BHP lost 0.39 per cent to $47.37 while Fortescue rose 0.28 per cent to $21.26.

    Afterpay has confirmed it is closer to listing on a US stock market after North America overtook Australia and New Zealand as the biggest region for sales.

    The buy now, pay later provider published sales figures which showed people in Canada and the US spent $2.6 billion using the service in the three months to March 31.

    The spending constituted a rise of 167 per cent on the same quarter last year.

    Shares were down 0.05 per cent to $126.12.

    Investment manager Challenger plunged 14 per cent to $5.67 after it said full-year profit was expected to be at the bottom of its target range.

    The company has been hit by movements in bond markets.

    It forecast net profit before tax to be at the bottom part of a range of $390 million to $440 million.

    In banking, the big four and Macquarie were all lower by less than one per cent.

    The Australian dollar was buying 77.86 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 77.42 US cents at Monday’s close.