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Investors have been taken on a rollercoaster ride today with a sudden afternoon reversal dragging Aussie stocks down.

The morning opened with a quick surge after a strong night on Wall Street and some encouraging Chinese economic data. The benchmark ASX 200 index spiked over three per cent within the first hour of trade.

Things were happily green until a sudden dip just after 2 pm AEDT, which saw the index suddenly slip 0.7 per cent. Once more, however, the index rebounded back to a 1.2 per cent gain, before taking a dramatic tumble in the last hour of trade.

Come market close, the index was 2.02 per cent lower at 5076.80 points.

Part of the reason for the sudden turnaround could be a change in tune in the near future of China’s economy this afternoon. While the country has seen an extraordinary rebound since its coronavirus lockdown, analysts are suggesting another quarter of negative GDP growth before things get better.

Outside of this, it seems the extreme market volatility from the COVID-19 crisis is not going away any time soon.

The afternoon sell-off seems to have been led by the materials sector today. Despite happy gains this morning, BHP ended up slipping 4.04 per cent red by market close, with Rio Tinto following at a 3.39 per cent loss. Fortescue closed grey, while Newcrest fell 5.96 per cent.

Interestingly, health care stocks dragged things down further with their own dramatic afternoon dive. While Cochlear held on to a 2.54 per cent gain, the win was offset by CSL’s 5.12 per cent loss. Fisher and Paykel Healthcare lost 4.6 per cent.

Today’s heaviest sector loss, however, goes to consumer staples. The defensive supermarket giants missed out on the green start to the day then just fell even further in the afternoon. Woolworths lost 7.97 per cent, Coles 9.87 per cent, and Metcash 3.67 per cent.

Nevertheless, our banking stocks staved off the heaviest of the losses half of our big four stayed green. While Commonwealth closed grey, Westpac put on 2.1 per cent and NAB 2.27 per cent. ANZ lost 0.66 per cent.

Investment banker Macquarie Group gained 0.12 per cent.

As for the generally volatile tech sector, the top stocks managed to stay relatively out of the spotlight today. While WiseTech gained 7.89 per cent, Afterpay and Altium kept things reasonable with 2.17 per cent and 1.25 per cent respective gains. Xero posted a muted loss of 0.13 per cent.

Things were mixed across Asian markets. When the ASX closed, the Asia Dow was 1.26 per cent lower, the Nikkei 225 1.10 per cent lower, and the Hang Seng 1.09 per cent higher.

The Aussie dollar currently buys 61.77 US cents, 50.03 pence, and 11.08 South African Rand.

Today’s ups and downs

3D printing specialist Titomic (ASX:TTT) did not give in to the afternoon sell-off after a heft spike this morning. The company signed a partnership with US tech venture company Triton to start building some 3D-printed products for the Department of Defense. The partnership gives Titomic potential access to the Department’s US$60 billion research and development funding budget. Shares in Titomic closed 50.5 per cent higher at $0.76 each.

Meanwhile, Kangaroo Island Plantations (ASX:KPT) is still coming to grips with the last major disaster before the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Black Summer” bushfires burnt 95 per cent of the company’s trees and the company is now trying to regrow its crop. Shares opened from a three-month-long trading halt today to fall 53.57 per cent and close at 91 cents each.

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