It was a rollercoaster day for Aussie shares that ended with a late-market retreat.
Things started out a healthy shade of green in early action but quickly turned sour before lunchtime as US futures took a dive. A Twitter tirade from President Donald Trump wherein he said China could have easily stopped the spread of COVID-19 but failed to do so is being blamed for the reversal.
Whether the President’s tweets truly hold that much power on the stock market or not, when the ASX closed for the day Dow Futures were still 0.58 per cent lower and S&P 500 futures 0.53 per cent lower.
Our benchmark ASX 200 index almost pulled off an afternoon comeback, sitting green once more for the better part of the final hour of trade, but could not hold onto its gains. At market close, the index was 0.41 per cent lower at 5550.40 points — reversing all of yesterday’s marginal rally.
It was the energy sector that tried to carry the market today as another bump in the price of oil saw our big producers bulk up a little. Beach Energy led the gains with a 4.19 per cent rise, while WorleyParsons gained 3.48 per cent. Santos increased by 3.32 per cent and Woodside added on 0.67 per cent.
The tech sector also kept its head above the water despite a slight 0.27 per cent decline from Xero. Afterpay offset the loss with a 2.59 per cent gain, with WiseTech close behind and up 1.16 per cent. Computershare closed grey.
Of course, despite the small wins from five of our 11 market sectors, our heavyweights kept things subdued.
Our big players in the iron ore game kept the materials sector down as Fortescue Metals slumped 2.16 per cent. Rio Tinto lost 1.03 per cent and BHP lost 0.60 per cent.
Not even our gold stocks could offset the losses today as Evolution Mining shaved off 3.12 per cent. Newcrest lost 0.94 per cent and Saracen Mineral Holdings lost 0.36 per cent. Northern Star Resources did its best to balance things out but could only hold on to a 0.07 per cent win by market close.
Likewise, our big banks anchored the financials sector. Commonwealth Bank led the losses today, declining by 1.70 per cent. Westpac lost 0.98 per cent, ANZ 0.77 per cent, and NAB 0.51 per cent.
Our eastern neighbours looked in for a similar fate when the ASX closed as the Asia Dow sat 0.42 per cent red. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down by 0.21 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng by 0.35 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Aussie dollar is weaker today, currently worth 65.52 US cents, 53.74 pence, and 11.80 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Drone protection specialist DroneShield (ASX:DRO) remained among the top winners today after it won a tender to supply its DroneGun Tactical product to the European Union Police force. The company said today’s win is the first framework rollout of counter-drone equipment by any government customer anywhere in the world. Shares in DroneShield closed a healthy 59.05 per cent higher at 17 cents each.
Meanwhile, gambling giant Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) was one of the few major losers today that actually had substantial news to back up its share price decline. The company has been hit hard by COVID-19 lockdowns and revealed today net profit after tax slumped by some $50 million over the half-year to March compared to the same time last year. Aristocrat shares dropped 5.01 per cent to close worth $25.97 each.