Shares on the Australian market have tumbled after a White House adviser said the US-China trade deal is over, and cited tension over the coronavirus.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index had been performing steadily to 5979.7 points at 1105 AEST on Tuesday, then fell to a daily low of 5882.8 at about 1142 AEST once investors learned of adviser Peter Navarro’s comments.
“It’s over,” he told Fox News when asked about the trade agreement, and said the turning point came when the US learned about the spreading virus only after a Chinese delegation left Washington on January 15 when the Phase 1 deal was signed.
“It was at a time when they had already sent hundreds of thousands of people to this country to spread that virus, and it was just minutes after wheels up when that plane took off that we began to hear about this pandemic,” he said.
IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said investors immediately opted for safe havens such as gold.
The index has appeared to be rebuilding since and was lower by 22.7 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 5921.8 points a 1200 AEST.
The All Ordinaries index was 24.2 points, or 0.40 per cent lower, at 6033.8.
Financials were the biggest weight on the market, down 1.04 per cent.
The other negative sectors were all down by less than 1.0 per cent. Those trading higher were property (0.01 per cent), consumer discretionaries (0.35 per cent) and industrials (0.36 per cent). AMP has been a big mover on the market after regulators cleared the sale of its life insurance business to Resolution Life.
AMP shares were higher by 8.92 per cent to $1.92. The Australian Securities And Investments Commission (ASIC) is suing the Commonwealth Bank and subsidiary Colonial First State Investments over a banking royal commission finding that the latter paid bank staff to promote a superannuation product to customers.
ASIC claims Colonial paid the bank $22 million in what it calls conflicted remuneration to distribute the Essential Super product to customers from 2013 to 2019. ANZ, the Commonwealth and NAB were all lower by less than 1.0 per cent, while Westpac was down 1.15 per cent to $18.05.
Meanwhile Woolworths said it expects flat full-year earnings in the range of $3.2 billion to $3.25 billion, compared to $3.29 billion for a 53-week period last year. Shares in the retail giant were lower by 0.60 per cent to $36.44. Four big miners, BHP, Rio, Fortescue and steelmaker BlueScope were all higher by less than 1.0 per cent.
Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow rose 0.59 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.65 per cent and the Nasdaq climbed 1.11 per cent. Investors there were clinging to hopes for more stimulus after US House of Representatives Democrats last week unveiled a $US1.5 trillion infrastructure bill while reports also emerged of preparations by the Trump administration for an infrastructure stimulus plan.
The virus remains prevalent, however, with a dozen states in the US reporting record increases in new cases. The Australian dollar fell to a daily low of 68.58 US cents soon after Mr Navarro’s comments, but recovered to be buying 69.05 US cents at 1200 AEST, up from 68.58 US cents at the close of trade on Monday.