SYDNEY: The Australian stocks started weaker ahead of a key read on inflation, as more drop in commodities overnight and failing in the financial sector weighed.
At the 10.15am (AEDT) official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index lost 20.6 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 5,526.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 19.6 points, or 0.36 per cent, at 5,491.9.
CMC chief market analyst Ric Spooner said weaker US markets and further declines in commodity prices set a soft tone for the open.
“However, the release of December quarter inflation data which has the capacity to set expectations for the outlook on interest rates and the Australian dollar will be the key focus for macro investors,” he said.
Consumer staples weighed heavily on the market, shedding 0.83 per cent as a sector.
Woolworths slipped 1.51 per cent to $31.97, while Wesfarmers lost 0.27 per cent to $43.57.
Financial stocks also retreated, falling 0.54 per cent as a sector.
ANZ lost 0.86 per cent to $32.29, while Commonwealth Bank retreated 0.7 per cent to $87.02.
National Australia Bank shed 0.65 per cent to $34.92 while Westpac lost 1.06 per cent to $34.42.
Energy stocks were the best performing sector, gaining 0.37 per cent.
Santos gained 1.59 per cent to $7.68, while Woodside Petroleum rose 0.32 per cent to $34.36.
Oil Search rallied 0.78 per cent to $7.72, while Beach Energy added 2.13 per cent to 96c.
Materials edged higher, adding 0.06 per cent as a sector.
BHP Billiton retreated 0.1 per cent to $28.92, while rival Rio Tinto lifted 0.26 per cent to $56.95.
Fortescue Metals fell 2.16 per cent to $2.035.
Mount Gibson was one of the worst performers in early trade after it flagged an impairment of up to $950m in its first-half results. Shares in the junior miner fell 4.35 per cent to 22c.
Meanwhile, Telstra edged 0.08 per cent higher to $6.435 and Qantas was among the best-performing stocks, adding 2.52 per cent to $2.44.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases consumer price index data for the December quarter at 11.30am (AEDT).