ASX down, banks and energy stocks lower

The Australian share market has slipped by about 0.5 per cent in early trade after a weak lead from US markets overnight.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was down by 26.2 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 5388.4 points after the first 15 minutes of trade on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries index was 26.9 points lower, or 0.49 per cent, at 5437.9.

The financial and energy sectors were the biggest drags on the market.

The S&P 500 and the Dow fell overnight as declines in financials and defensive groups countered gains in tech shares.

Oil dropped 4.0 per cent overnight to below $US30 a barrel as US crude stockpiles ticked up and diesel inventories swelled.

The only sector on the ASX with any substantial gain was healthcare, which was up by 0.53 per cent.

Attention on Thursday will turn to miner Rio Tinto and insurer QBE, which are holding their annual general meetings.

Also, the March international trade balance will be published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Westpac economists expect the surplus to widen to $6.8 billion, led by a sharp rebound in exports.

One Australian dollar buys 64.07 US cents at 1015 AEST, down from 64.45 US cents on Wednesday’s close.

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