SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market has slumped as technology and consumer discretionary shares proved the biggest disappointments.

The market was down about half a per cent on Wednesday as investors continued trading conservatively prior to a US Federal Reserve meeting this week.

Technology shares Afterpay and Altium were each lower by a little more than three per cent after the Nasdaq fared worst of US markets.

Almost all share categories were lower at 1300 AEDT although the major financial and materials shares had lost less than half a per cent each.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 42.8 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 7335.6 points.

The All Ordinaries was lower by 53.9 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7644.4 points.

US markets were down after data showed producer prices increased more than expected in November.

The data has only raised expectations the Federal Reserve will detail a faster wind-down of asset purchases.

In Australia, international students and skilled workers can return following eased coronavirus restrictions.

This is despite concerns about the Omicron variant spread and rising infection numbers in parts of the nation.

Westpac will incur a “first strike” after more than 25 per cent of investors voted against its executive pay deal at the annual meeting.

Some were upset about regulator ASIC taking the bank to court over alleged widespread compliance failures.

Shares were up 0.21 per cent to $27.54.

NAB and Westpac, which have their meetings this week, were each higher by as much as half a per cent. The Commonwealth slipped 0.79 per cent to $96.76.

Wesfarmers will use its shares in Australian Pharmaceutical Industries to vote against a Woolworths takeover.

The API board has said Woolworths’ $872 million ($1.75 per share) offer was superior to the Wesfarmers bid ($1.55 per share).

Wesfarmers has the right to match the offer.

Shares in the company were down 0.63 per cent to $58.04.

Woolworths was higher by 0.12 per cent to $37.49.

Corporate Travel Management is buying Helloworld Travel’s corporate business in Australia and New Zealand.

The $175 million buy will be helped by a $100 million share sale.

Corporate Travel Management will also give Helloworld investors $75 million in shares.

Helloworld was higher by six and a half per cent to $2.45.

Shares in Corporate Travel Management were paused from trading.

CSL shares also remained paused. The company is working on a $16.4 billion takeover bid for iron deficiency specialist Vifor Pharma of Switzerland.

A $6.3 billion share sale would help fund the buy.

In mining, Rio Tinto was best of the majors and climbed 0.81 per cent to $98.90. BHP was up 0.29 per cent to $41.40. Fortescue was little changed at $18.71.

The dollar was buying 71.09 US cents at 1300 AEDT, higher from 71.00 US cents at Tuesday’s close.