Aussie shares tumbled today as reports of a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan spooked investors.
Panic is beginning to rise again as China reported a cluster of new cases in the city of Shulan, near the Russian border, which were all connect to a woman who had no known history of travel or exposure to the virus.
On top of this, Wuhan recorded five new cases on Sunday as lockdown measures in the city began to lift.
Combine this news with a fresh rise in infections in several US states and you’ve got yourself some weak US futures and a declining local share market.
Our S&P/ASX 200 index quickly set the tone for the rest of the day with an early descent into the red. The index closed 1.07 per cent lower at 5403 points, erasing almost all of yesterday’s gains.
Interestingly, despite the price of oil increasing again today, it was our energy sector that copped the biggest blow. Woodside lost 1.3 per cent, Santos 3.24 per cent, and Origin Energy 3.41 per cent. WorleyParsons lost 3.75 per cent.
Nevertheless, our market heavyweights trailed close behind our energy stocks to keep the day bleak.
The materials sector lost 1.89 per cent, led by Fortescue Metals’ 3.22 per cent downfall. BHP lost 2.63 per cent and Rio Tinto lost 1.65 per cent.
For the second day in a row, gold stocks and the wider materials sector moved in the same direction. This time, however, it was nothing to celebrate. Newcrest Mining lost 0.68 per cent, Northern Star 0.3 per cent, and St Barbara 1.89 per cent. Regis Resources closed grey.
As for our finance stocks, our big four dragged the sector lower. NAB led today’s decline with a 2.88 per cent reversal. Westpac lost 2.56 per cent, ANZ lost 1.96 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank lost 0.71 per cent.
It was a flashback to February today, however, as health care surged ahead on renewed virus fears while the rest of the market tumbled. Biotech giant CSL gained 1.81 per cent, urged on by a 1.93 per cent rise from Fisher and Paykel Healthcare.
Meanwhile, it was mostly red across Asian markets as the virus once again tightens its grip on global economies. When the ASX closed shop for the day, the Asia Dow was 1.50 per cent lower and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.46 per cent lower. Only Japan’s Nikkei 225 index escaped red among the Asian stocks, up a marginal 0.06 per cent.
The Aussie dollar weakened slightly today, currently buying 64.63 US cents, 52.45 pence, and 11.96 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Eco-friendly graphite company EcoGraf (ASX:EGR) increased in value by a fifth today after an 18-month valuation of its graphite production in Europe was successful. On top of coming up with an environmentally-friendly method of producing battery graphite, the company re-processes leftover graphite flakes from ordinary production into high-value graphite products. The process met some strict requirements from evaluating European customers. Shares in ERG gained 19.3 per cent to close worth 6.8 cents each.
Meanwhile, Elixinol Global (ASX:EXL) nosedive today after officially launching its half-price one-for-2.51 entitlement offer. The company plans to raise $11 million at 20 cents per share — a 48.1 per cent discount to the last closing price before the offer was announced. Today, shares lost 33.7 per cent to close worth 31.5 cents each.