ASX plunges again to hit fresh 4-year low

The Australian stock market has shrugged off an emergency rate cut from the Reserve Bank, hitting a fresh four-year low in the process, while the Australian dollar has sunk to an 18-year low.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 finished Thursday down 170.3 points, or 3.44 per cent, to 4,782.9, while the broader All Ordinaries index sank 189.4 points, or 3.79 per cent, to 4,809.4.

The ASX200 is now down 33.5 per cent in the past four weeks, and on Thursday came within 34.3 points of eclipsing its February 10, 2016, low of 4,706.7 - which would have set it back to levels last seen in July 2013.

"It would be incredible to think that we've given up all those gains back in just about a month," said Australian Stock Report senior advisor Ben Le Brun.

"The market just can't catch a break at the moment."

The losses followed Wednesday's 6.4 per cent plunge, breaking a four-day spell in which gains and losses alternated daily.

The market moved lower after the RBA announced an emergency 25 basis point cut to the cash rate and first-ever quantitative easing moves.

But the Australian dollar plunged to as low as just 55.08 US cents, a level last seen in October 2002.

At 1719 AEDT it had rebounded somewhat, buying 56.89 US cents, still down 8.0 per cent on the week.

The Aussie is down 18.9 per cent since the start of the year, having begun 2020 trading for 70.21 US cents.

Property trusts were the worst hit on Thursday, falling a massive 14.8 per cent.

Goodman Group dropped 14.6 per cent to $9.70, Dexus dropped 12 per cent to $8.82, Stockland fell 24.9 per cent to $2.08 and Mirvac plunged 18.03 per cent to $1.705.

Energy stocks dropped 7.2 per cent as the price of Brent crude dropped to just $US25 a barrel.

Santos fell 12.1 per cent to $2.75 and Woodside Petroleum dropped 7.6 per cent to $15.91, a level last seen in 2004.

The financial sector fell seven per cent as NAB hit its lowest level since 1997, ANZ since 2001 and Westpac since 2003.

NAB dropped 9.0 per cent to $14.57, ANZ declined 9.8 per cent to $15 and Westpac fell 8.6 per cent to $14.53.

Australia's biggest bank, Commonwealth, dropped 4.7 per cent to an eight-year low of $60.95.

Macquarie was down 12.9 per cent to $79.30, having lost 47 per cent of its value since the coronavirus crisis began.

"It's been a dramatic fall from grace in recent sessions," Mr Le Brun said of the blue-chip stock.

In the mining sector, BHP and Rio Tinto eked out gains, with the former gaining 0.7 per cent to $27.34 and the latter up 0.8 per cent to $80.52.

Iron ore giant Fortescue Metals gained 5.8 per cent to $10.95 but goldminers Newcrest, Evolution and Northern Star were down between 7.4 and 11.7 per cent as the price of the precious metal dropped to $US1,475 an ounce.

CSL rose 4.6 per cent to $283.91, Wesfarmers gained 2.0 per cent to $34.89 and Woolworths climbed 0.8 per cent to $39.90.

Qantas sank 15.4 per cent to $2.14 after grounding all its international flights until the end of May.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Thursday down 170.3 points, or 3.44 per cent, at 4,782.9 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 189.4 points, or 3.79 per cent, at 4,809.4 points

* At 1717 AEDT the SPI200 futures index was up 23 points, or 0.48 per cent, at 4,848 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 56.89 US cents, from 59.98 US cents on Wednesday

* 61.93 Japanese yen, from 64.12 yen

* 52.12 euro cents, from 54.45 cents

* 49.39 British pence, from 49.58 pence

* 101.08 NZ cents, from 100.87 cents..

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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