Aussie shares fell for a second day as a rebound in American oil from negative prices failed to steady market nerves following a night of historic turmoil.
The S&P/ASX 200 fell 84 points or 1.6 per cent by mid-session as energy stocks and crude prices fluctuated wildly.
US crude for delivery next month bounced $38.80 or 103 per cent to US$1.17 a barrel, restoring some sanity to a market that overnight for the first time saw sellers effectively offering to pay buyers to take delivery. The price of West Texas Intermediate for delivery next month plunged US$55.90 or 306 per cent overnight to -US$37.63 as traders without the storage capacity to accept delivery scrambled to offload contracts at any cost.
Contracts further out rebounded this morning as the initial shock passed. WTI for June delivery climbed $82 cents or 4 per cent to US$21.22. Brent crude for June delivery declined 24 cents or 0.9 per cent to US$25.33.
The ructions in oil markets helped drag the S&P 500 down 51 points or 1.79 per cent last night. S&P 500 index futures were lately down 15 points or 0.5 per cent.
The Australian energy sector dipped in and out of positive territory in volatile trade. The sector was last down 2.2 per cent as Santos declined 1.7 per cent and Woodside 1.3 per cent.
“Today’s price weakness is asymmetrically skewed to West Texas Intermediate and North American crudes relative to Brent and global linked barrels,” Michael Tran, commodity strategist at RBC Capital Markets, told clients. “To be clear, this is a North American storage congestion story, not a global one.”
Qantas rallied 0.8 per cent after rival Virgin Australia collapsed into administration. Virgin’s board of directors this morning announced they had appointed Deloitte as voluntary administrators of the debt-laden airline. The board said in a statement that the airline will continue to operate scheduled flights while the administrators seek to restructure and refinance the business.
Virgin CEO Paul Scurrah said, “Our decision today is about securing the future of the Virgin Australia Group and emerging on the other side of the Covd-19 crisis… We employ more than 10,000 people and a further 6,000 indirectly.”
The financial sector rolled over mid-morning. CBA eased 0.6 per cent, ANZ 1.6 per cent, NAB 0.8 per cent and Westpac 0.7 per cent.
Tech stocks were the biggest drag on the market, falling 3.2 per cent. Wisetech slumped 10.2 per cent, Bravura Solutions 5.4 per cent and Appen 4.6 per cent.
Young people took the biggest hit as 780,000 jobs disappeared in three weeks, according to a new Australian Bureau of Statistics report released this morning. Six per cent of jobs evaporated between March 14 and April 4 as lockdown restrictions commenced. Job losses among people under 20 were highest at 9.9 per cent. The hardest hit sectors were accommodation, food services and the arts.
A red morning on Asian markets saw China’s Shanghai Composite fall 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 2.6 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 1.6 per cent.
Gold eased $7.40 or 0.4 per cent this morning to $US1,703.80 an ounce, paring an overnight advance of $12.40.
The dollar retreated 0.7 per cent to 62.88 US cents.
What’s hot today and what’s not:
Hot today: Another moribund stock sprang to life, thanks to the coronavirus. VIP Gloves (ASX:VIP) can go days without a trade but this morning briefly surged 928 per cent after revealing it was churning out disposable rubber gloves to meet demand in Malaysia. The company said its order book was full until December with orders representing 400 million gloves. The Malaysian production line was running 24 hours, seven days a week. The share price ran from 3.5 cents to 36 cents before lately settling back at 11.5 cents, a rise of 229 per cent.
Not today: Shareholders face significant dilution as companies scramble to bolster their balance sheets amid unprecedented economic conditions. Shares in IGA wholesaler Metcash (ASX:MTS) dived 11.5 per cent this morning after the company issued 107.1 million new shares to institutional investors to raise $300 million. Retail shareholders will get a chance to buy up to $30,000 in new shares to raise another $30 million. Insurer QBE raised $1.2 billion last week.