Every sector was down except for consumer staples, with health care suffering the most. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

market and exchange

Shares slip 1.5pct amid rising virus fears

2020-07-08 17:48:21

The Australian share market has suffered its worst drop in nearly two weeks amid worries about rising virus cases in Victoria and overseas and following a drop in US markets.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Wednesday down 92.6 points, or 1.54 per cent, at 5,920.3 points, while the All Ordinaries index dropped 92.4 points, or 1.51 per cent, at 6,034.3.

“A bit of air came out of the market today,” said Australian Stock Report senior analyst Ben Le Brun, who said he had been in awe of its performance in recent weeks. 

“It’s been pumped up artificially, no doubt. It’s basically a whatever it takes attitude from central banks across the globe.”

Every sector was lower except for consumer staples, which gained 0.5 per cent, with consumer discretionary, health care and property trusts all down collectively more than two per cent.

CSL dropped 3.3 per cent to a three-week low of $280.50.

All the big banks were lower after agreeing to extend a six-month repayment holiday for home loan customers facing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

ANZ fell 2.1 per cent to $18.41, NAB was down 2.0 per cent to $17.98, Westpac dropped 1.8 per cent to $17.84 and Commonwealth Bank dipped 1.0 per cent to $70.56.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP fell 1.0 per cent to $35.75, Rio Tinto dropped 0.8 per cent to $95.54 and Fortescue Metals dipped 0.9 per cent to $14.67.

Goldminers did well however as the price of the precious metal rose to a nearly nine-year high of $US1,793 an ounce.

Evolution rose 1.3 per cent, Saracen gained 1.8 per cent and Northern Star climbed 6.5 per cent after reporting it had sold 900,388 ounces of gold in the 12 months to June 30.

Supermarkets also did well with Melbourne back in lockdown, with Woolworths gaining 1.0 per cent to $38.22 and Coles up 2.4 per cent to $17.79.

Alumina Limited dropped 7.0 per cent to $1.59 after announcing its joint venture with aluminium giant Alcoa has been assessed $212 million in back taxes plus $707 million in compound interest.

Afterpay shares closed down 2.9 per cent to $66 after resuming trading following a $650 million equity raising priced at $66.52 per share.

Payments provider Splitit surged 8.4 per cent to $1.48 after reporting record growth in the second quarter.

Its merchant sales grew to $US65.4 million, up 260 per cent on the same quarter last year.

Overnight, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all ended lower after large parts of the US reported tens of thousands of new coronavirus infections.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.51 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 1.08 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.86 per cent.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.34 US cents, down from 69.52 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday closed down 92.6 points, or 1.54 per cent, at 5,920.3 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 92.4 points, or 1.51 per cent, at 6,034.3 points

* At 1738 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up 36 points, 0.61 per cent, at 5,927 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.47 US cents, from 69.41 US cents on Tuesday

* 74.46 Japanese yen, from 74.67 yen

* 61.53 euro cents, from 61.49 cents

* 55.32 British pence, from 55.63 pence

* 106.06 NZ cents, from 106.21 cents.