The Australian share market has seesawed in a narrow range in early trade, with investors wary of taking positions ahead of local gross domestic product data and key international developments.
The benchmark S & P/ASX200 stock index was down 0.1 per cent at 5,659 points after the first half-hour of trade, with healthcare and consumer stocks under pressure.
The broader All Ordinaries index was down 7.4 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 5,700.7 points.
“What we are seeing is more a reaction to local developments, but people are also watching for global developments,” Australian Stock Report’s head of trading Chris Conway said.
“There has been a fairly brutal sell-off in the last two sessions and GDP will be a focus if it differs considerably from estimates.”
Economists expect the Australian economy to have grown by just 0.1 per cent in the March quarter, taking annual growth to its slowest rate since 2009.
The GDP data was due for release at 11.30am (AEST).
Overnight, major US stock indexes ended near session lows as traders shied away from risky assets ahead of major political and economic headlines expected on Thursday.
These include Britain’s general elections, the European Central Bank’s policy meeting and former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before a US Senate panel.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.23 per cent, while the S & P 500 lost 0.28 per cent.
In the local market, energy and materials stocks were among the gainers. Woodside, Santos and Origin Energy were trading slightly higher, while among mining stocks, Rio Tinto was up 0.7 per cent and shares in gold miners, including Newcrest, Evolution and Regis Resources were all up between one and two per cent.
Financial stocks continued their weak momentum, with shares of all four major banks in the red.
Consumer stocks were led lower by a two per cent fall in Coles-owner Wesfarmers, while healthcare stocks such as CSL and Ramsay Health Care also traded lower.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar continued to trade above US75 cents with its US counterpart on the defensive ahead of Britain’s election tomorrow. The local currency was trading at US75.03c at 10.36am (AEST), from US74.74c yesterday.