The Australian share market has lost more than one and a half per cent for the second consecutive day with commodity-related stocks suffering heavy losses on plunging oil prices.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 101.4 points lower, or 1.74 per cent, at 5732.8 on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 1.69 per cent.
CommSec market analyst James Tao said there was no smoking gun to explain the dramatic broad-based sell-off, as the local bourse’s loss compared to other markets was a concern.
“The other Asian markets are certainly outperforming us and the US futures are pointing higher as well,” he told AAP.
Energy stocks dragged on Wall Street overnight after US oil futures closed down for a record 12th straight session to the lowest level since November 2017, falling 7.1 per cent.
The local energy sector followed suit to plunge more than 2.5 per cent with Santos taking the biggest hit, losing five per cent to close at $6.06.
Oil Search fell 2.6 per cent to $7.46, Woodside Petroleum was down 2.5 per cent to $32.56, while Origin Energy lost 1.7 per cent to $6.92.
The heavyweight mining sector also dragged, with giants BHP and Rio down 2.3 per cent to $32.11 and 2.6 per cent to $78.44 respectively.
South32 fell 2.6 per cent, while safe haven gold miners also suffered losses despite the precious metal’s price rise overnight.
The financials were down more than two per cent with Westpac leading the losses for the big four lenders, down three per cent to $25.45.
Commonwealth, ANZ and NAB all lost between 2.3 and 2.4 per cent.
Healthcare stocks were down again, with Cochlear losing 4.7 per cent to $160.20 and biotech company CSL losing 2.3 per cent to $183.60.
Consumer, tech and property stocks all bled red, while the telco sector was the only to eek out a gain, buoyed by Telstra which rose 0.7 per cent to $3.05.
In companies news, Perth-based Fastbrick Robotics shares were up more than 27 per cent after it achieved what it says is a world-first with the fully-automated construction of a house in less than three days.
Dulux shares were flat at $7.39 after it lifted full-year profit 5.4 per cent to $150.7 million, while predicting do-it-yourself maintenance and renovations will help it weather a downturn in Australian property construction.
The Australian dollar clung to gains after signs of a possible thaw in Sino-US trade relations which prompted a bout of short-covering.
The Aussie was buying 72.19 US cents at 1630 AEDT from 72.42 on Monday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 101.4 points lower, or 1.74 per cent, at 5732.8
* The All Ordinaries was 100.3 points lower, or 1.69 per cent, at 5822.3
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 89 points, or 1.53 per cent, at 5743 points
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 72.19 US cents, from 72.16 US cents, cents on Tuesday
* 82.25 Japanese yen, from 82.26
* 63.93 euro cents, from 64.16
* 55.58 British pence, from 56.03
* 106.49 NZ cents, from 106.90
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1202.84 per fine ounce, from $US1204.60 on Tuesday.