(Australian Associated Press)
The Australian stock market has suffered another monster sell-off, losing ground for the eighth time in nine days as three of the country’s four big banks plunged to their lowest levels in many years.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 finished Wednesday down 110.3 points, or 1.71 per cent, at 6,325.4, while the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 113.1 points, or 1.74 per cent, to 6,398.5.
The losses came despite the Reserve Bank’s cash rate cut on Tuesday and the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday releasing figures showing the country’s economy grew at a better-than-expected 0.5 per cent in the December quarter.
“There’s just too much uncertainty on the earnings side to jump back in,” said Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston.
“People’s everyday lives around the world are starting to be affected by this,” Mr Weston said, noting the panic buying of toilet paper in Sydney.
“We’re still very much in the eye of the storm, I think. There’s not a lot of good news out there, and we find sellers easy to attract.”
Every ASX sector was down aside from materials, which gained 0.1 per cent.
Tech stocks declined the most, by 4.1 per cent, as Computershare dropped 8.3 per cent, Afterpay fell 4.2 per cent and Altium declined 4.7 per cent.
Financials were the second-worst hit, falling 2.7 per cent after J.P. Morgan and UBS cut their earnings forecasts for Australia’s major banks on concerns the RBA’s rate cut would hurt their profit margins.
NAB dropped 3.7 per cent to a seven-year low of $23.24, ANZ fell 3.3 per cent to a three-year low of $23.21 and Westpac fell 3.1 per cent to a nearly eight-year low of $22.23.
J.P. Morgan said Commonwealth Bank would not be as impacted by the rate cut, and its stock declined the least of the big four, by 2.5 per cent to a six-month low of $77.11.
Fund managers sold off again, with ex-dividend Perpetual falling 7.8 per cent, Pendal Group down 5.4 per cent, HUB24 down 6.7 per cent and Janus Henderson down 6.6 per cent.
Woolworths, also trading ex-dividend, declined 2.5 per cent to $37.04, while Coles was up 1.3 per cent to $15.32.
The energy sector fell by 2.5 per cent, with Woodside Petroleum down 3.4 per cent and Beach Energy down 3.9 per cent.
In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP dropped by 1.0 per cent to $33.66, but Rio Tinto was up 1.4 per cent to $90 and Fortescue Metals rose 0.8 per cent to $9.55.
Goldminers shone as the price of the precious metal climbed back above $US1,640 an ounce, with Newcrest up 3.7 per cent, Northern Star up 6.8 per cent and Saracen up 5.9 per cent.
The Australian dollar was buying 65.97 US cents, up from 65.45 US cents at Tuesday’s market close.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Wednesday down 110.3 points, or 1.71 per cent, at 6,325.4 points.
* The All Ordinaries closed down 113.1 points, or 1.74 per cent, at 6,398.5 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed down 45 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 6,323 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 65.99 US cents, from 65.45 US cents on Tuesday
* 70.90 Japanese yen, from 70.55 yen
* 59.17 euro cents, from 58.72 cents
* 51.52 British pence, from 51.21 pence
* 105.13 NZ cents, from 104.58 cents.