Australian Market Tumbles


The Australian stock market is tumbling more than 3 percent on Friday after U.S. stocks plunged into correction territory overnight amid fears over the rapid spread of the coronavirus globally. In the U.S., California Governor Gavin Newsom said 33 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the state is currently monitoring at least 8,400 others.


The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is falling 216.40 points or 3.25 percent to 6,441.50, after touching a low of 6,426.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is losing 224.80 points or 3.34 percent to 6,512.60. Australian stocks fell for a fifth day on Thursday.


Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices fell for a fifth session overnight. Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are all lower by more than 3 percent each.


Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is falling more than 6 percent, BHP is losing almost 4 percent and Rio Tinto is lower by more than 3 percent.


In the banking space, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are tumbling in a range of 3.0 percent to 3.8 percent.


Gold miners are lower after safe-haven gold prices extended losses to a third session. Evolution Mining is plunging more than 6 percent and Newcrest Mining is tumbling more than 5 percent.


Harvey Norman Holdings reported a 4 percent decline in first-half profit, as the peak Christmas trading period impacted by bushfires and extreme weather. The furniture and electronics retailer's shares are falling more than 9 percent.


Japara Healthcare reported a 28 percent decrease in first-half profit, while revenue rose 7 percent, and declared a lower interim dividend. The aged care operator's shares are losing 6 percent.


On the economic front, Australia will see January figures for private sector credit today.


In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6581, compared to $0.6550 on Thursday.


On Wall Street, stocks plummeted on Thursday, failing to recover from an early sell-off amid ongoing worries about the rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak. Adding to the concerns, the CDC confirmed a coronavirus infection in an American who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with the disease. Additionally, California Governor Gavin Newsom said 33 people have tested positive for the coronavirus and the state is currently monitoring at least 8,400 others.


The Dow plunged 1,190.95 points or 4.4 percent to 25,766.64, the Nasdaq dove 414.30 points or 4.6 percent to 8,566.48 and the S&P 500 plummeted 137.63 points or 4.4 percent to 2,978.76.


The major European markets also moved sharply lower on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index plummeted by 3.5 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 3.3 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.


Crude oil prices plunged sharply on Thursday, extending losses to a fifth session amid concerns about the outlook for energy demand. WTI crude for April ended down $1.64 or about 3.4 percent to $47.09 a barrel, the lowest finish since January 2019.

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