SYDNEY, AAP – Plunging Commonwealth Bank shares have kept the Australian market lower despite a good lead from Wall Street.

Shares in the bank were down six per cent on Wednesday after its first-quarter trading update showed the net interest margin slashed. Low interest rates and lending competition were responsible.

Most banks were lower. ANZ was next worst and shed about one per cent.

Most share categories were higher after US markets were buoyed by retail spending data published overnight.

The best ASX categories were technology, healthcare and consumer discretionaries. Each gained more than one per cent.

Market giant CSL was up almost one and a half per cent to $311.88.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 15 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 7405.4 points at 1200 AEDT.

The All Ordinaries was lower by 8.1 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 7739 points.

Wages growth in Australia has returned to its pre-pandemic level but is still short of the Reserve Bank target.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said its wage price index – a measure used by the Reserve Bank to determine rates – rose 0.6 per cent in the September quarter, taking the annual rate to 2.2 per cent.

RBA governor Philip Lowe believes wages will need to grow at more than three per cent annually before a rate rise.

Telecommunications group Uniti was one of the biggest movers on the ASX as it prepares to buy back shares.

The company may buy up to 10 per cent of shares during the next 12 months.

Shares in the company were up about nine per cent to $4.21.

The big miners were lower. BHP lost 0.9 per cent to $36.16. Fortescue and Rio Tinto shed less than half a per cent.

Car dealer group Eagers Automotive forecast higher full-year earnings despite coronavirus lockdown and supply challenges.

Operating profit for the year to December 31 was expected to be about $390 million, more than the $209 million from the previous period.

Shares were up 5.44 per cent to $14.34.

Job advertising network Seek’s full-year earnings were on course to be in the upper part of its forecast.

However, the company told its annual general meeting that lots of investment would be needed in the next five years to meet its goals.

Shares were down 3.16 per cent to $34.61.

In the best-performing category of technology, shares in artificial intelligence software vendor Appen improved 4.24 per cent to $11.53.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.87 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 73.57 US cents at Tuesday’s close.