ASX falls 5% in worst day in five weeks

The Australian share market has suffered its worst day in five weeks, wiping out nearly all of its gains for the week with heavy losses across the board.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index finished Friday down 276.5 points, or 5.01 per cent, at 5,245.9 points, while the All Ordinaries index closed down 272.7 points, or 4.87 per cent, at 5,325 points.

"The Aussie market today is having a shocker," CommSec market Steven Daghlian said .

"A pretty big tumble. Normally I'd say it was the worst day in a long time, but today, not really."

The market dropped more severely six times during its horror month of March, most recently on March 27.

Despite the large fall the ASX managed to finish the week up - although by just barely, by 3.3 points - following strong gains on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

"It's not like the market's moving aggressively backwards this week," Mr Daghlain said.

There did not appear to be a single reason for the selloff although Reuters reported that US officials were considering re-igniting their trade war with China to retaliate for perceived shortfalls in its candidness over the coronavirus pandemic.

Also in the United States, another 3.8 million people filed for unemployment, bringing the total to unemployed to 30 million since the coronavirus crisis began six weeks ago.

Every sector was down at least two per cent, and only eight component of the ASX200 didn't lose ground.

The mining sector was the worst hit, falling 6.8 per cent as BHP dropped 7.8 per cent to $29.84, Rio Tinto tumbled 5.6 per cent to $82.59 and Fortescue Metals retreated 8.2 per cent to $10.98.

Goldminers were no safe haven as a price of the precious metal fell around 0.7 per cent to $US1,675 an ounce.

Evolution dropped 7.6 per cent, Northern Star fell 8.1 per cent and Newcrest tumbled 8.7 per cent after completing a $1 billion institutional placement, in part to fund it buying a further stake in a goldmine in Ecuador.

All the big banks were down significantly, with CBA dropping 6.1 per cent to $58.84, Westpac retreating 5.8 per cent to $15.34, NAB down 4.8 per cent to $16.14 and ANZ falling 6.8 per cent to $15.75.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and ResMed were among the few gainers after ResMed said its revenue was up 17 per cent for the March quarter after it pivoted to making ventilators during the coronavirus crisis.

ResMed gained 3.3 per cent to $24.16, while Fisher & Paykel, which also makes respiratory products, climbed 4.9 per cent to $26.54.

Also, fund manager Janus Henderson rose 8.2 per cent to $26.60 after reporting its adjusted first-quarter operating income rose 15 per cent, compared to a year ago.

Travel company Helloworld rose 2.6 per cent after advising it saw no need to raise funds to weather the coronavirus crisis.

Other than that winners were hard to find, with shipbuilder Austal falling the most, by 19.9 per cent to $2.69 after it lost out on a potential $US5.6 billion ($A8.7 billion) contract to build guided-missile frigates for the US Navy

Engineering company Monadelphous fell 14.6 per cent to $9.65 after reporting it was experiencing supply chain issues, causing delays on many large construction projects in progress.

One Australian dollar was buying 64.60 US cents, down from 65.43 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished on Friday down 276.5 points, or 5.01 per cent, at 5,245.9 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 272.7 points, or 4.87 per cent, at 5,325 points

* At 1725 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down 14 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 5,223 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 64.60 US cents, from 65.43 US cents on Thursday

* 69.06 Japanese yen, from 69.76 yen

* 58.86 euro cents, from 60.13 cents

* 51.36 British pence, from 52.52 pence

* 105.93 NZ cents, from 106.77 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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