Stocks plumbed a fresh ten-week low as Wall Street’s fourth loss in five sessions tipped the local market towards its longest run of weekly falls since the February-March pandemic meltdown.
The S&P/ASX 200 sank 40 points or 0.7 per cent by mid-session and required a major afternoon reversal to avert a fourth straight weekly loss. Wall Street all but sealed the unwelcome milestone as tech-led selling resumed overnight following Wednesday night’s fleeting relief rally.
What’s driving the market
The Nasdaq Composite dived 1.99 per cent, resuming a downward trend that began last Thursday and continued after the Labor Day long weekend. The broader S&P 500, which has lower exposure to concerns about inflated valuations among the market-leading tech giants, fell 1.76 per cent.
Australian tech stocks chased the Nasdaq, falling 1.3 per cent as nine of the top ten leaders declined. Afterpay shed 1.2 per cent, Xero 1.9 per cent, Appen 1.6 per cent and WiseTech 1.4 per cent. The sector had more than doubled since March before the recent US setback, leaving it vulnerable to the same valuation worries that sent the Nasdaq down 10 per cent into a technical correction earlier in the week. This morning’s retreat extended the local sector’s pullback from last month’s high to 14.5 per cent.
The energy sector was also a drag on the market, declining 0.9 per cent to its weakest level since late April. The decline came as signs of demand issues – rising US inventories, a cut in Saudi prices – pull crude towards its heaviest two-week decline since April. Oil Search dropped 2.5 per cent, Santos 0.7 per cent and Woodside 0.6 per cent.
The market climbed off its lows as US index futures rebounded after last night’s tumble. S&P 500 index futures bounced 19 points or 0.6 per cent. Nasdaq futures rose 74 points or 0.7 per cent.
With the market firmly in reverse, just two of the top 200 stocks rose more than 4 per cent. Whitehaven Coal hit a four-year low last week, but rebounded 5 per cent today. Media group Seven West gained 4.4 per cent.
Rio Tinto briefly bucked the downtrend before fading 0.7 per cent following major changes at the top of the executive team in response to the furore over the iron ore miner’s destruction of Aboriginal rock shelters. Group CEO J.S. Jacques and two other senior executives will depart as the company tries to quell shareholder discontent.
Potential buying interest in nickel miner IGO‘s 30 per cent stake in the Tropicana gold mine near Kalgoorlie helped lift the company’s share price 2.5 per cent. IGO said it had launched a strategic review of its options following “unsolicited approaches from a number of parties”. Tropicana is a joint venture with AngloGold Ashanti.
Nine of eleven sectors declined, led by IT -1.3 per cent, materials -1.1 per cent and energy -0.9 per cent. The defensive REIT and healthcare sectors fared best with gains of 0.3 and 0.6 per cent, respectively.
Three-quarters of the heavyweights of the ASX 20 retreated. The heaviest falls were IAG -2 per cent, Newcrest -1.5 per cent and Suncorp -1.3 per cent. The big four banks lost between 0.7 and 0.9 per cent. BHP dropped 1.2 per cent.
Aerial mapping group Nearmap declined 13.2 per cent after raising $72.1 million from investors. The funds will go towards the roll-out of the company’s fourth-generation camera system.
Asian markets shrugged off Wall Street’s negative lead. China’s Shanghai Composite put on 0.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.4 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.3 per cent.
Gold reversed its overnight gains as US index futures rallied. The precious metal was lately down $11.40 or 0.6 per cent at $US1,952.90 an ounce. Brent crude dropped five cents or 0.1 per cent to $US40.01 a barrel.
The dollar inched up 0.14 per cent to 72.72 US cents.
What’s hot today and what’s not
Hot today: Shares in Change Financial (ASX:CCA) doubled after the fintech emerged as the winner of a bidding war for the assets of failed credit card management and payments group Wirecard New Zealand and its Australian subsidiary. Change Financial will pay $7.8 million for the assets, which include a blue-chip client base, card management platform, a mobile payments platform and a testing hub for financial transactions. Wirecard NZ and Australia fell into administration in July after 29 years. CCA’s share price shot doubled from 11.5 cents before paring its rally to a gain of 56.5 per cent at 18 cents.
Not today: Investors in neural networks specialist BrainChip (ASX:BRN) have enjoyed a stellar run that has seen the share price climb from 10 cents in July in a series of wild surges to a peak of 97 cents on Wednesday. Alas, it has been all downhill from there, with the share price skidding 11.3 per cent this morning to 67 cents. The company announced earlier this month it was working on a processor suitable for the NASA space program.