It was the inverse of yesterday’s picture of the ASX today, with a healthy green morning being dragged into the red over the course of the afternoon.
A recovery in the oil market saw the Dow Jones close green overnight for the first time this week. With oil jitters settling and Wall Street staging a recovery, the ASX looked ready to take back some of its own lost ground.
However, afternoon reversals from banking and health stocks would have it another way.
When the closing bell sounded, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.079 per cent lower at 5217.0 points. This takes our weekly loss down to roughly 270 points.
NAB led the finance sector’s decline today with a 1.13 per cent fall, though truthfully each of our big four paid their fair contribution. Commonwealth Bank lost 0.71 per cent, Westpac lost 0.39 per cent, and ANZ lost 0.06 per cent. Investment banking giant Macquarie Group declined 0.96 per cent.
As for the health care sector, eight of the ten biggest companies by market cap closed red. Biotech giant CSL lost 2.04 per cent while hearing specialist Cochlear lost 1.43 per cent. Only EBOS Group and ResMed escaped the sell-off, posting 4.17 per cent and 0.56 per cent respective gains.
It wasn’t all bleak today, however, with energy stocks rebounding after a tough week. Woodside gained 2.04 per cent, while Santos tacked on a hefty 6.77 per cent after reaffirming its FY20 production guidance in its latest quarterly report. Oil Search gained 3.73 per cent.
Similarly, our heavyweight materials stocks helped protect the wider market from the worst of the damage today. BHP gained 2.69 per cent, Fortescue Metals gained 1.10 per cent, and Rio Tinto gained 1.01 per cent.
Meanwhile, gold stocks continue to provide a safe haven when things turn sour. Today was an exceptional day for our big gold miners with Newcrest gaining 3.90 per cent, Northern Star Resources gaining 4.87 per cent, and Regis Resources gaining 7.84 per cent. Perseus Mining flexed a double-digit gain as it closed 10.90 per cent higher.
Interestingly, the ever-volatile tech sector was mostly flat today. Xero gained 0.44 per cent, Afterpay 2.18 per cent, and Computershare 0.47 per cent. On the inverse, WiseTech lost 0.12 per cent, Altium lost 0.06 per cent, and Appen lost 1.83 per cent.
Asian markets were green across the board when the ASX closed shop. The Asia Dow was 0.74 per cent up, Japan’s Nikkei 225 1.39 per cent up, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.28 per cent up.
Our local currency joined in the fun, with the Aussie dollar stronger today and buying 63.56 US cents, 51.36 pence, and 12.02 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Shareholders in Jupiter Energy (ASX:JPR) are being left scratching their heads in glee as the company’s unexplained share price surge continues. Yesterday, shares increased from a mere 0.2 cents each to close worth six cents each. Today, shares closed worth 15 cents each marking an increase of some 7400 per cent in just two days. Jupiter management said it has no idea why the bull run started.
Meanwhile, junior explorer Great Boulder Resources (ASX:GBR) sunk 21.43 per cent today after a swing-and-a-miss in its latest bout of drilling at the Mt Carlon project in WA. The company said the drilling revealed nickel is present in the area but in a different type of rock than expected, called olivine. While interpreting what this means is best left to the geochemical experts, it didn’t bode well with investors. Shares in GBR closed worth 3.3 cents each.