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The local market is suffering its worst loss in 2020 so far with the ASX 200 plunging 153 points or 2.1% to 6986 at lunch on Monday. The index is following a soft lead from Wall Street where the spread of the coronavirus outbreak outside of China is becoming a concern for investors. The outbreak has been a major cause of volatility for markets, just last Thursday the ASX 200 hit fresh all-time highs.

There has been little escape from the sell off with losses are across every sector and ~90% of the top 200 stocks in decline. The energy and consumer discretionary sectors have seen the largest percentage falls, both over 3%. Local energy companies have been weighed by falling global oil prices, weighed by easing demand expectations. Woodside (WPL) is also down 5.9%, as it trades ex-dividend today. Both Wesfarmers (WES) and Tabcorp (TAH) are weighing heavily as they trade ex-dividend. WES is down 4% while TAH is sliding 4.5%.

The heavyweight banks, miners and CSL Ltd (CSL) are also contributing to the broader losses. The big four banks are down at least 1.5% while Macquarie Group (MQG) is 3.3% weaker. Our largest listed miner, BHP Group (BHP) is also 2.2% lower with blood products maker and the second largest listed stock on the ASX, CSL falling 2.8%. The small pocket of improvements are in gold stocks. The precious metal is seen as a safe haven in times of uncertainty. Newcrest Mining (NCM) is lifting 4.5%.

It hasn’t been a great start to the final week of the February reporting season with some underwhelming profit results leading to heavy declines. Plumbing business, Reliance Worldwide (RWC) is one of the worst performers as it tumbles 24.5% following a 22% slide in first half net profit to $50.1 million. RWC’s 1H numbers were mostly weaker than what the company expected leading to a downgrade for FY20 NPAT guidance.

Bluescope Steel (BSL) is 8% weaker as declining steel margins and prices impact the business. NPAT plummeted 70% to $185.8 million. Health insurer NIB Holdings (NHF) is tumbling 6% on disappointing results as net profit dived 23% and insurance claims rose 10%.

The Aussie dollar also remains under pressure, but is off recent lows, buying 66.09 US cents at lunch. So far, 1.7b units have traded worth $2.9b with 283 stocks higher, 821 weaker and 323 unchanged.

Published by CommSec