The Australian share market has started lower in lacklustre trading despite a positive lead from Wall Street, as investors continue to in wait-and-watch mode.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was down 0.5 per cent after the first half-hour of trade, with energy the only sector trading in the green.

Investors seem to be waiting for some local trigger to gauge the direction of the market, Australian Stock Report’s head of trading Chris Conway said.

The US markets have been grinding higher all week, but our market has done nothing,” Mr Conway said.

“There isn’t much happening locally to lift us out of this trading range that we have been caught in for a few months now.”

Overnight, US stocks ended slightly higher after the Federal Reserve signalled it expects another interest rate hike by year-end and disclosed timing for reducing its bond-buying program.

As expected, the Fed said it would begin in October to cut its roughly $US4.2 trillion in US Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities holdings, and left rates unchanged for now, but signalled one more rate hike by year-end despite recent weak inflation readings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.19 per cent while the S&P 500 gained 0.06 per cent.

In the local market, energy shares were higher after oil prices lifted two per cent, with Oil Search and Santos rising more than two per cent each.

Financial stocks were mixed led by Commonwealth Bank, which rose 0.6 per cent after announcing it has agreed to sell its life insurance operations to Asia’s AIA for $3.8 billion.

However, only one of the remaining three major banks was trading higher.

Mining shares were also under pressure, with major miners BHP Billiton and Fortescue, as well as gold miners trading under one per cent lower.

Shares in Brickworks were down 0.6 per cent despite the building products group more than doubling full-year net profit to $186.2 million, while group company Soul Pattinson also fell 2.6 per cent after delivering a lift in full-year net profit on the back of its diverse investment portfolio.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has given up gains after surging to nearly 81 US cents overnight, after the US Federal Reserve proved more hawkish than expected.

At 1036 AEST, the local currency was trading at 80.13 US cents, from 80.38 on Wednesday.

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