Aussie shares nosedived today as the coronavirus crisis claims another record, this time in the overnight price of oil.
Yesterday, oil prices turned negative for the first time in history as demand for the black gold comes to a standstill amid COVID-19 lockdowns. This is precisely as it sounds: producers were paying buyers to take the oil off their hands as storage capacities are reached.
Though the negative prices were brief and oil staged a massive recovery today, the very idea of a negatively-priced commodity was enough to send investors running for the hills.
Further exacerbating the latest bout of coronavirus woes is Virgin Australia entering voluntary administration after trying and failing to secure a bailout package from the Federal Government.
While the airline assured customers and investors it is operating as normal for now, the voluntary administration puts the jobs of Virgin’s 15,000 workers and the future of the business itself under a veil of uncertainty. Shares in Virgin have been in a trading halt since April 9 but last traded for 8.6 cents each.
Our benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index kept the losses relatively muted until midday when a reduction in US futures anchored local stocks. When the market closed for the day, the index was 2.46 per cent lower at 5221.30 points.
Interestingly, the energy sector wasn’t the worst performer on the ASX today. While the sector’s 2.04 per cent decline is certainly nothing to write home about, energy was in the middle ground of the wider losses. Woodside lost 1.29 per cent, Origin Energy 2.66 per cent, and Oil Search 6.02 per cent.
It was the ever-volatile tech sector that took the cake for the biggest decline today. Xero lost 3.82 per cent, Afterpay 5.79 per cent, and Computershare 2.58 per cent. Meanwhile, logistics software company WiseTech Global sunk a hefty 12.51 per cent after a major shareholder dumped over nine million shares late yesterday afternoon.
Materials stocks were among the top performers today, but with red streaked across the ASX, the sector still posted a loss. BHP declined 2.5 per cent, Fortescue 2.2 per cent, and Rio Tinto 2.09 per cent.
Of course, gold stocks once again performed inversely to the rest of the market with healthy closes all ’round. Newcrest closed 0.58 per cent green, with Northern Star Resources gaining 4.17 per cent and Evolution Mining gaining 5.05 per cent.
As for our financial sector, our big four banks were a drag once more. Commonwealth Bank shed 2.09 per cent, Westpac 2.26 per cent, NAB 2.25 per cent, and ANZ 2.17 per cent.
Asian markets responded similarly to the bleak overnight news. When the ASX closed, the Asia Dow was 2.34 per cent lower, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was 1.98 per cent lower, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 2.25 per cent lower.
The Aussie dollar is weaker today, currently worth 63.09 US cents, 50.83 pence, and 11.93 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Malaysia-based glove maker VIP Gloves (ASX:VIP) has serviced a relatively-niche market up until now but could not have chosen a better time to be a dedicated disposable glove creator. The company’s share price has gone unmoved throughout the COVID-19 mayhem until today when it surged over 900 per cent at one point after the company revealed a boost in demand throughout Malaysia. Shares settled 77.14 per cent higher at 6.2 cents each.
Meanwhile, junior explorer Avenira (ASX:AEV) shares have slumped today after the company revealed on Monday it would be buying the Jundee South Gold Project for $350,000. Despite a new project under its belt, shareholders might be concerned about the cash position of the phosphate explorer. Shares doubled yesterday then halved today, closing worth 0.8 cents each.