Aust shares set for coronavirus-driven hit

Australian equities are set to again bathe in red ink as the potential impact of coronavirus sends jitters through the local and global economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed Friday down 179.5 points, or 2.8 per cent, at 6,216.2, its lowest level since May 14. The index has lost 13.6 per cent of its value in just 11-and-a-half days of turbulent trading.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver says Australian futures trading indicated the ASX200 would fall an additional 1.5 per cent at Monday's open.

He says the Australian market would likely remain in freefall while coronavirus fears continue to disrupt economic activity and spending.

There have been almost 75 confirmed Australian cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, including the overnight death in Sydney of a man in his 80s.

"We're seeing an increasing number of cases around the world, including the US and Australia, and that's weighing on share markets to the extent it's disrupting economic activity and hence profit," Dr Oliver told AAP on Sunday.

"Nervousness will probably continue on share markets."

Dr Oliver said Australian business and consumer confidence figures - to be released on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively - would also likely paint a grim picture and suffer additional falls.

However, the economic stimulus package set to be announced by the federal government this week may stoke some confidence, while the European Central Bank is odds-on this week to cut its cash rate.

"They're obviously going to be looked at quite closely because they were already quite soft prior to the intensification of coronavirus," he said.

Since hitting an intraday high of 7,197.2 on February 20, the ASX200 has lost 13.6 per cent of its value and is down 7.0 per cent on the year.

The banking and tech sectors were the worst hit on Friday, falling 4.2 per cent as three of Australia's big four banks sank to their lowest levels since 2012.

Commonwealth Bank lost its place as Australia's largest company by ASX-listed market capitalisation after its stock closed down 9.6 per cent on the week.

As of Friday's close, CBA has a market cap of $135.8 billion, compared to CSL's $143.8 billion, although BHP has a value of around $160 billion including the value of its shares on the London Stock Exchange.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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