ASX sheds $40bn in year-ending slump

The Australian share market has finished 2019 with a sharp loss that wiped out $40 billion in value as traders took some of the year's phenomenal profits off the table.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Tuesday's abbreviated New Year's Eve session down 120.8 points, or 1.78 per cent, to 6,684.1 points, with the broader All Ordinaries down 119.2 points, or 1.72 per cent, to 6,802.4 points.

"Not a very good day, it was just indiscriminate selling, pure profit taking," said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir.

"But zooming out, it's still our best annual gain in 10 years," Ms Amir noted.

The ASX200 finished 2019 up 1,037.7 points - a 18.38 per cent gain - for its best year since its 30.9 per cent climb in 2009.

For December the ASX200 lost 161.8 points, or 2.36 per cent, in just its third losing month for the year.

It was flat for the quarter, with a 4.2 point loss.

"It's amazing, all the risks I was talking about, and here we are sitting just off all-time highs," said IC Markets general manager Nick Twidale, who had a similar view on Tuesday's losses.

"For today, it's just a bit of profit taking into the new year, but all the fundamentals are locked in for a strong start to the new year."

Every sector suffered losses of at least a percentage point, with telecom and tech stocks hit the worst as both sectors dropped 3.0 per cent.

Telstra dropped 2.8 per cent to $3.54, Afterpay was down 2.8 per cent to $29.28 and WiseTech Global dropped 5.5 per cent to $23.37.

Supermarket giant Woolworths dropped 3.4 per cent to $36.16 while Coles fell 3.3 per cent to $14.84.

In health care, blood products giant CSL fell 2.2 per cent to $275.76, while Sonic Healthcare, Ramsay Health Care and Cochlear all dropped between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent.

Mining suffered the least losses, with the sector down 1.1 per cent - buoyed by goldminers, the only group to rise.

Newcrest gained 0.6 per cent, Evolution was up 2.4 per cent and Northern Star rose 1.3 per cent.

But elsewhere in the sector, BHP was down 1.3 per cent to $38.92, Rio Tinto fell 1.2 per cent to $100.40 and Fortescue Metals dropped 1.8 per cent to $10.69.

The financial sector suffered the second-least losses, down 1.3 per cent, as Commonwealth Bank dropped 1.5 per cent to $79.90, NAB tumbled 1.0 per cent to $24.63 and Westpac and ANZ both dropped 0.7 per cent, to $24.23 and $24.63, respectively.

For the year, Avita Medical posted the biggest gains, posting a massive 696 per cent rise after its spray-on burn treatment was approved for use in the United States.

Fellow biotech stock Polynovo - which also makes treatment for burns - was the second-biggest ASX200 gainer, up 231 per cent, followed by prepaid card company EML Payments, which climbed 208 per cent.

The Aussie dollar is buying 70.03 US cents, from 69.76 US cents on Monday, having moved within touching distance of a new five-month high overnight.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 120.8 points, or 1.78 per cent, at 6,684.1 points

* The All Ordinaries was down 119.2 points, or 1.72 per cent, at 6,802.4 points.

* At 1507 the SPI200 futures index was down 138 points, or 2.05 per cent, at 6,603 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1508 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 70.03 US cents, from 69.89 US cents on Friday

* 76.12 Japanese yen, from 76.28 yen

* 62.50 euro cents, from 62.40 cents

* 53.34 British pence, from 53.27 pence

* 104.10 NZ cents, from 104.13

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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