The Australian sharemarket is trading lower as investors ponder how the United States will deal with its so-called 'fiscal cliff' in the wake of the re-election of President Barack Obama.
At 9am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 32.3 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 4,451.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had fallen 29.9 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 4472.3 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 20 points lower at 4466 points, on volume of 15,851 contracts.
IG Markets market analyst Cameron Peacock said the local market had followed US markets downwards, but about half of the fall could be attributed to the National Australia Bank and Westpac trading ex-dividend.
"The rest is the fear of the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations (in the US)," Mr Peacock said.
"People are taking the cautious option and want to see some resolution between the Democrats and the Republicans."
US markets have fallen since the re-election of Mr Obama earlier this week as investors fret over the looming battle between Democrats and Republicans over the nation's deficit.
Automatic tax increases and spending cuts are set to take effect in January if the Democrats and Republicans cannot reach a budget deal.
Tax increases and spending cuts will reduce the budget deficit but might increase the risk of a recession: the so-called 'fiscal cliff'.
Mr Peacock said that although the US market has endured two days of substantial falls, it could easily spike upwards if the Democrats and the Republicans come to some agreement.
On the local market, in the resources sector, at 9.10am global miner BHP Billiton dropped 23 cents to $34.44, and Rio Tinto sagged 82 cents to $58.53.
Rare earths miner Lynas Corporation was in a trading halt as it prepared to raise capital. Lynas last traded at 80.5 cents.
Among the major banks, ANZ added 12.5 cents to $24.495, National Australia Bank descended $1.00 to $23.87, Westpac weakened 82 cents to $25.11, and Commonwealth Bank gained 57 cents at $58.75.
Among other stocks, stockfeed and salt supplier Ridley Corporation was one cent lower at $1.12 as it agreed to acquire meat renderer BPL Melbourne (BPL) in Victoria for $77 million.
National turnover at 9.19am was 614.5 million securities worth $3.7 billion, with 431 stocks down, 283 up and 323 unchanged.
On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 120.95 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 12,811.78 points.