The Australian share market has suffered its worst day in over four years, closing the day at a six-month low amid a growing panic the coronavirus outbreak will trigger a global recession.

The S&P/ASX200 index finished on Friday down 216.7 points, or 3.25 per cent, at 6,441.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index plummeted 225.9 points, or 3.35 per cent, to 6,511.5 points.

For the week, the ASX200 lost 697.8 points, or 9.77 per cent, for its second-worst string of losses, exceeded only by a 15.65 per cent dive in October 2008 during the global financial crisis.

Since hitting an all-time high of 7,197.2 on Thursday, February 20, it has declined for six straight days, losing 756 points, or 10.5 per cent.

That means it is now in official correction territory, having suffered a drop of more than 10 per cent from a recent highs.

Friday’s 3.25 per cent dive was the worst since a 3.8 per cent, or 195-point drop on September 29, 2015.

“Today felt like panic selling,” said Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston.

“Whether this was a capitulation or there is more to it, this felt different” from the substantial declines earlier in the week, Mr Weston said.

“The rug got pulled from the market today. The ferocity of the selling isn’t something we have seen for a long long time.”

Every sector was down at least one per cent and most fell over three, with the tech sector the worst hit, down 4.71 per cent as Afterpay plummeted 9.1 per cent to a one-month low $33.17.

The mining sector suffered the second-biggest losses, falling a collective 4.67 per cent as mining giant BHP dropped 4.5 per cent to a one-year low of $33.60, Rio Tinto fell 3.5 per cent to a five-month low of $87.27 and Fortescue Metals declined 6.4 per cent to a more than two-month low of $10.08.

Goldminers were not immune from the carnage, with Newcrest, Northern Star and Saracen all plunging between 8.0 and 9.8 per cent.

Woolworths dropped 3.5 per cent to $38.80 and Wesfarmers dropped 2.9 per cent to $40.65.

Among the big banks, Commonwealth and NAB both dropped 3.1 per cent, to $81.78 and $25.10, respectively, while ANZ dropped 2.7 per cent to $24.83 and Westpac fell 2.8 per cent to $23.64.

Harvey Norman was the biggest ASX200 loser, falling 14.1 per cent to a nine-month low of $3.71 after announcing its first-half profit had been hit by bushfires as stores in regional areas closed temporarily.

Just 14 companies among the ASX300 gained on Friday, while another six were flat.

The Aussie dollar meanwhile was dropped further, hitting an 11-year low of 65.16 US cents, having declined 1.6 per cent against the greenback this week and 7.0 per cent so far this year.

At 1652 AEDT the Aussie was buying 65.22 US cents, down from 65.50 US cents at the market close on Thursday.

Looking forward, IG market analyst Kyle Rodda said that markets were most concerned about the spread of the coronavirus in the world’s largest economy, the United States, following the infection of a California woman this week.

Mr Rodda said there was a good chance there could be more coronavirus cases in reported in the United States over the weekend, while Chinese factory data set to be released on Saturday (Australia time) would deliver the first good read on how the outbreak had affected the world’s second-biggest economy.

“It’s going to set up an interesting Monday morning, when trading conditions become a little thin – especially if the news flow delivers a few shockers,” he wrote in a note.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Thursday down 50.2 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 6,657.9 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed down 53.3 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 6,737.4 points.

* At 1719 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down one point, or 0.02 per cent, at 6,617 points.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 65.22 US cents, from 65.50 US cents on Wednesday

* 72.09 Japanese yen, from 72.10 yen

* 60.06 euro cents, from 60.58 cents

* 50.67 British pence, from 50.70 pence

* 104.10 NZ cents, from 104.27 cents.