The Australian share market has slipped in early trade, as a soft lead from Wall Street trading on Friday and mixed results for commodities weighed on investor sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 0.2 per cent after the first half hour of trade, with energy, materials and financials all in the red.

“There is not a lot of positive sentiment out there,” Australian Stock Report’s head of trading Chris Conway said.

“It may not turn out to be disastrous but it doesn’t look like a great day for buying.”

On Friday, Wall Street stocks ended the week lower as tepid economic data weighed on banks and worries deepened over retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.11 per cent and the S&P 500 lost 0.15 per cent.

The poor sentiment was reflected in the local market, with major sectors starting lower.

Investors are waiting for the release of Chinese industrial production and retail sales data later today – numbers which could swing the market higher or lower.

Locally, among financial stocks, three of the four major banks were marginally higher, but National Australia Bank, Macquarie and insurers QBE and IAG all traded lower.

Energy shares lost ground with Woodside, Origin Energy and Oil Search down about 0.5 per cent each, while big miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Newcrest also slipped lower.

Shares in Fairfax Media were in a brief trading halt after the media company got a higher, revised $2.76 billion takeover bid from a consortium led by US provate equity giant TPG Capital. Shares are set to resume trade at 1100 AEST.

Shares in Elders were up 2.3 per cent after the agribusiness booked a 56 per cent jump in first-half net profit to $38.2 million.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar stayed below the 74 US cents level but firmed up against the US dollar, which lost some ground following the release of some weaker than expected US retail spending data.

May 15, 2017