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Aussie shares are continuing their decline, with the ASX 200 down by 8.7 per cent or 424pts to 4,405.8 as coronavirus concerns drag equities to November 2012 lows. The local market has fallen by around 38 per cent from the record highs hit just four weeks ago.

There has been a barrage of information flooding markets in recent days, leaving participants with plenty of information to digest.

Locally this included the Federal Government’s second stimulus package announced over the weekend ($66 billion) together with strict virus controls. From midday today casinos, gyms, pubs, clubs, cinemas and places of worship shut their doors for the time being. Restrictions also apply to cafes and restaurants.

US futures are pointing to another decline tonight when the American market re-opens. Earlier this morning US Democrats blocked an economic stimulus bill; disappointing markets that stimulus will take longer to pass in the world’s largest economy. This at a time when the states of Washington, California and New York all declared a disaster situation due to coronavirus.

At lunch, losses are broad and significant across the Australian sharemarket. With the exception of some gold miners, all sectors are falling heavily. Uncertainty linked to the coronavirus and just how damaging this could be for the global economy continues to keep markets on edge. The major banks are slumping by as much as 11 per cent; led lower by National Australia Bank (NAB).

Virgin Australia (VAH) said it ‘…expects a material reduction in its domestic capacity’ as a result of Federal and State Government COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Flight Centre (FLT) has decided to cancel the $40.1m interim dividend payment due to be paid to investors on April 17. The travel agent remains suspended on the local market and has fallen by 75 per cent from the $40.04 high hit on February 20.

Sydney Airport (SYD) is down 3 per cent and said it no longer expects to invest the previously forecast $350-$400m in CAPEX over the year due to COVID-19. Property group Stockland (SGP) has removed its guidance for both funds from operations and distributions for the 12 months to June following heightened uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Tabcorp (TAH) is slumping by 15 per cent. The gaming group said it is ‘…not currently in a position to provide specific guidance on earnings or financial impacts’ following last night’s announcement by the prime minister to close certain types of venues due to the spread of COVID19.

No major data is due today. Over the week, the market will remain focused on the coronavirus, government and central bank responses and timely economic data globally which will highlight part of the impact of COVID-19 on some of the world’s largest economies.

2.7bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $5.4bn. 95 stocks are up, 1,211 are down and 201 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec