The Australian share market is more than seven per cent lower as global panic selling continues with no end in sight on its worst ever week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 374.6 points, or 7.06 per cent, at 4930 at noon AEDT on Friday after dropping into 4,000-point territory for the first time since April 2016.

Late in the morning, the market was down 20.47 per cent for the week and analysts are bracing for weeks more of volatility until coronavirus cases peak globally.

The prior worst period was 15.65 per cent down in a single week in October 2008, which was just after the onset of the global financial crisis, while November 2008 recorded weekly falls of 8.9 per cent and 7.5 per cent.

Already the turbulence has wiped $400 billion off Australia’s wider market this week and more than $700 billion since its all time high in February.


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The broader All Ordinaries index was down 372.2 points, or 6.93 per cent, to 4998.7 at with Fortescue Metals one of the few rising stocks on the board after iron ore prices rose.

The iron ore producer was 2.62 per cent higher at $9.02 as BHP fell 5.7 per cent to $24.83 and Rio dropped 2.11 per cent to $75.77.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said financials were leading stocks down amid pressure for more rate cuts.

Westpac fell $1.29, or 7.27 per cent, to $16.45 after it was hit with another shareholder class action as the fallout continues from its money laundering and child exploitation scandal.

The Commonwealth dropped 3.44 per cent to $60.94 as NAB lost 5.68 per cent to $17.10 and ANZ dived 4.38 per cent to $17.46.

Global markets plunged overnight in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s travel ban for Europe with European markets closing down about 12 per cent while the US tanked 10 per cent.

It was the worst day ever for European equity markets and since 1987 for Wall Street.

Mr Felsman said markets had been waiting for detail on President Trump’s promised major stimulus plan and didn’t hear the information they wanted.

Instead the president announced a travel ban to mainland Europe to prevent the spread of coronavirus that is already impacting the US health system.

“It’s really too late,” Mr Felsman said.

Mr Felsman believes the market volatility could continue until a peak in the number of coronavirus cases world wide.

Pepperstone research strategist Sean MacLean also believes it looks like volatility will continue for now.

Investors are unsure where to turn with so many mixed signals coming through with both equities and save haven assets falling.

“Volatility is here to stay for a couple of weeks,” he said, adding that investors are keenly waiting to see what the Federal Reserve will do next week.

Gold stocks were down between five and ten per cent with Newcrest losing 13.78 per cent to $20.96 as Evolution Mining dropped 9.97 per cent to $3.52.

Energy stocks were down 8.8 per cent as Woodside lost 8.54 per cent, to $17.46 Santos shed 11.19 per cent to $3.81 and Oil Search dropped 10.27 per cent to $2.665.

The Australian dollar was buying 62.91 US cents at noon AEDT on Friday down from 65.05 at the market closed on Thursday.

It plunged to a near 12-year low of 62.13 US cents at one point on Friday amid panic about the coronavirus pandemic that is shaking global financial and commodities markets.

The Aussie dollar had not sunk this low against the greenback since the GFC-lows of November 2008.