Aust stocks plunge amid virus shutdowns
Australian stocks have plunged more than 7.5 per cent as borders close and businesses shut in efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 tanked 367.3 points, or 7.63 per cent, to 4449.3 at 1030 AEDT in panic selling on a stream of negative COVID-19 news and profit warnings.
The All Ordinaries index plunged 374.8 points, or 7.22 per cent, to 4479.5 as businesses closed amid stricter measures to control the pandemic.
Newcrest Mining was a rare glimmer of green after a rise in the price of gold.
It was up 85.5 cents, or 3.93 per cent, at $22.59.
But all indices plunged as some states and territories shut their borders.
After half an hour of trading the industrials, consumer discretionary and property trust indices had tumbled more than nine per cent.
Energy, Info tech and financials plummeted more than 8 per cent and telcos, health care and utilities fell more than seven per cent.
Materials lost 4.91 per cent.
Stockland was down 11.92 per cent at $1.88 at 1101 AEDT while at the same time TabCorp shed 10.36 per cent to $2.25 and NIB lost 0.2 per cent to $4.95.
Retailer JB Hi-Fi has also withdrawn guidance and fell 8.7 per cent to $5.18 although it reported a surge in sales as customers rush to secure products that will allow them to work from home.
Federal parliament has a multibillion-dollar package of support for business and households impacted by the pandemic on the agenda for today.
However analysts say the measures are not enough to prevent a recession.
Martin Petch, vice president of Moody's investors service says the measures will likely buffer, although not fully offset, the economic impact from coronavirus-related disruptions.
"Australia's relatively strong fiscal position points to a limited impact of the economic downturn and the fiscal stimulus on the sovereign's fiscal strength."
ANZ Banking Group says the measures will make an important difference - but will not offset the economic consequences of the pandemic.
"We maintain expectations of a mid-2020 recession," it said in a note.
"The risk is that it could be deeper and longer than currently anticipated as shutdowns and border closures push economic growth down another notch."
One Australian dollar was buying 57.39 US cents at 1030 AEDT today, down from 58.82 on Friday when the share market closed.