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Shares on the ASX have improved to be trading flat after early losses of almost 1.0 per cent.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 7.1 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5552.4 points at 1200 AEST Wednesday.

The index has climbed since slumping to a low of 5507.0 points just 10 minutes after trading began.

The All Ordinaries index at noon was 0.1 points lower, or 0.0 per cent, at 5658.7.

The industrials sector has entered positive territory, up 1.09 per cent, while information technology has improved to a 1.75 per cent gain.

Utilities was the worst-performing sector, down 1.25 per cent.

Energy, financials and materials were down by less than 1.0 per cent.

Australian Agricultural Company shares were more than 2.0 per cent higher at $1.10 after it swung to a full-year profit of $31.3 million from a net loss a year ago, helped by the recovery in live cattle markets

Mortgage insurance provider Genworth said it would lose a contract with National Australia Bank but gained more than 4.0 per cent to $2.10.

Biotech Avita Medical was higher by more than 3.0 per cent to 47 cents as it plans to list on the Nasdaq.

The company produces medicine which helps skin recover from serious wounds.

The big banks and miners improved their position as trading wore on.

The banks were all trading lower by less than 1.0 per cent. ANZ was $15.38, Commonwealth Bank was $59.53, NAB was $15.47 and Westpac was $15.04.

Among the big miners, BHP lost less than 1.0 per cent to $34.84, Rio was down by less than 1.0 per cent to $94.41, but Fortescue gained less than 1.0 per cent to $13.88.

The market had opened lower after US investors overnight focused on a report questioning biotech Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine.

The US company’s early stage trial results prompted rampant buying on markets on Monday but Moderna’s finished more than 10 per cent lower the following day after the report questioned the results’ validity.

That concern produced a widespread slide that left the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 390.51 points, or 1.59 per cent, to 24,206.86, the S&P 500 lower by 30.97 points, or 1.05 per cent, at 2,922.94 and the Nasdaq Composite down 49.72 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 9,185.10.

Investors are also keeping an eye on the escalating trade tensions between Australia and China.

There are reports Chinese officials are considering stricter checks for Australian seafood, oats and fruit after imposing tariffs on barley and banning some beef imports.

Australian commentators have said the measures are a reaction to Australia’s call for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.

Chinese officials deny the claim.

The Australian dollar was buying 65.56 US cents at 1200 AEST, up from 65.46 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.