A seven-day winning streak came to a crashing halt today after the US Federal Reserve spooked investors with a bleak outlook on the near future of jobs and rates.
Reopening economies across the world have given investors a rather bullish sentiment over the past two weeks as they ignored the spread of the virus and civil unrest across the US.
However, the Fed snapped things back to reality today when it said rates are likely to stay at record lows for more than two years and unemployment will be elevated for years to come. The result was a choppy session on Wall Street that ended with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 down and the NASDAQ up.
Down under, our benchmark ASX 200 index quickly slumped in the early minutes of trade. However, this time around, shares stayed down. At the end of the day, the index had given back 3.05 per cent and lost the full week of gains, closing below 6000 points once more at 5960.60.
A fresh blow to the price of oil sent energy stocks lower as the sector took the wooden spoon. Woodside lost 5.76 per cent, Santos lost 6.35 per cent, and Oil Search lost 6.18 per cent.
Our big banking stocks continued their retreat today, pulling the financials sector back by 5.04 per cent. ANZ lost 6.21 per cent and Westpac 6.09 per cent. NAB closed 5.41 per cent lower and Commonwealth Bank 4.41 per cent lower.
Losses among the materials sector were largely offset by our big gold producers, but the sector still closed red. Our iron ore giants kept things subdued as BHP lost 1.97 per cent, Rio Tinto lost 1.61 per cent, and Fortescue lost 0.73 per cent.
Meanwhile, the “safe haven” gold sector did what it does best and rallied amid the wider market’s losses. Newcrest tacked on a healthy 5.7 per cent and Northern Star Resources 6.76 per cent. Evolution Mining gained 4.15 per cent and Saracen Mineral Holdings 5.47 per cent.
Not even the tech sector, which typically follows NASDAQ trends, could escape today’s sell-off. Afterpay lost 4.44 per cent, Computershare 8.13 per cent, and WiseTech 2.28 per cent.
It’s a similar story for Asian markets today, with red splashed across all major indexes. When the ASX closed for the day, the Asia Dow was lower by 2.24 per cent, Japan’s Nikkei 225 by 2.82 per cent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng by 1.83 per cent.
The Aussie dollar is lower, too, currently worth 69.33 US cents, 54.66 pence, and 11.55 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Wireless tech specialist Isentric (ASX:ICU) is the latest company to experience an unexplained share price surge with no news to back up the run. The trend has been ongoing for much of 2020, with massive unexplained gains and drops frequently popping up. In response to an ASX “explain yourself” query, Isentric said it had no idea why its share price increased by 115.38 per cent today. Shares closed at an 18-month high 2.8 cents each.
On a day like today, it’s hard to pick out a specific loser given the bleak overall performance. Big players who have been staging a recovery from the COVID-19 crisis declined today. Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) lost 10.39 per cent, Webject (ASX:WEB) 10.11 per cent, and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW) 9.77 per cent.