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ASX Today: ASX caps off worst week since GFC with more losses

The ASX reached a six-month low as our local share market had its worst week since the Global Financial Crisis.

The spreading Covid-19 coronavirus is impassively infecting economies around the world, with fears that it will officially be named a pandemic putting uncertainty on the future of education, sports, and even retailing.

After the Dow Jones lost another 1190 points overnight in its worse session of all time, things were looking bleak for the market down under.

As expected, the benchmark ASX 200 index quickly lost over three per cent when trading opened for the day. While it seemed it would recover the worst of the losses, a late-session decline saw the index close for the weekend 3.25 per cent lower at 4441.20 points.

While all stocks had a pitiful day, it was our materials sector that fell the furthest. When the ASX closed, the sector was 4.7 per cent lower as only 41 of the 667 companies comprising the sector closed green. BHP lost 4.52 per cent and Rio Tinto lost 3.47 per cent. Fortescue Metals and Newcrest mining lost 6.41 per cent and 8.04 per cent, respectively.

Finance stocks fared no better, with all 20 of the biggest stocks in the sector by market cap closing red. Our big four led the decline as Commonwealth Bank slipped 3.14. NAB lost 3.05 per cent, Westpac fell 2.84 per cent, ANZ declined 2.74 per cent.

Investment banking giant Macquarie Group was enjoying an all-time high just eight days ago. Since then, the company has shaved off over a tenth of its value. Today, shares declined another 3.29 per cent to their lowest point since early December.

Meanwhile, a heavy decline in the technology sector was fuelled by financial reports from some of the biggest buy now, pay later stocks on the market. Afterpay sunk 9.05 per cent today, while young competitor Splitit fell 11.9 per cent. The declines come in the light of deepened annual and half-yearly losses despite increased revenue.

Meanwhile, Xero lost 5.58 per cent, Computershare 4.61 per cent, and WiseTech 10.81 per cent.

Over east, Asian markets had a similarly sour day. When the ASX closed for the weekend, the Asia Dow was down 2.73 per cent, Japan's Nikkei 225 4.08 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 2.77 per cent. The Shanghai Composite lost 3.11 per cent.

As for our local currency, the Aussie dollar fell lower yet again today. Currently, one dollar buys 0.6520 US cents, 50.59 pence, and 10.17 South African Rand.

Today's ups and downs

A rare splash of green on a canvas of red today, Zoono Group (ASX:ZNO) soared as its Microbe Shield surface sanitiser proved 99.99 per cent effective against Covid-19. Sanitiser products have been the talk of the town since the virus started making headlines in January, and Zoono was quick to begin testing its own products. With the product proven to protect against the deadly strain of the coronavirus, shares in Zoono gained 16.98 per cent today to close with share worth $1.90 each. Since the start of 2020, Zoono shares have increased by over 175 per cent.

While it's tough to pick out a particularly poor stock when the whole market has plunged so dramatically, it's worth noting that gold stocks took an unusual dive today. Gold stocks have generally been outperforming global markets as the price of gold remains robust against Covid-19 scares. However, it seems investors may be selling off their best-performing assets to offset weekly losses. Today, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) lost 9.62 per cent, Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR) 9.81 per cent, and Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) lost 9.03 per cent.

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