ASX Losses Deepen Amid Virus Gloom

May 1, 2020 Updated: May 1, 2020

Australian shares have deepened losses by mid-day with one analyst surprised by the extent.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark index was lower by 207.3 points, or 3.75 percent, at 5315.1 points at 1200 AEST on May 1.

The All Ordinaries index was 206.2 points lower, or 3.68 percent, at 5391.5 points.

All sectors were trading sharply lower, and energy was the worst hit – down 6.03 percent.

Santos slipped 41 cents, or 8.3 percent, to $4.53. Oil Search had similar woe – down 23 cents, or 7.54 percent, to $2.82.

Origin Energy slipped 5.4 percent to $5.26 after agreeing to buy a 20 percent stake in UK retailer Octopus Energy for $507 million.

The losses come after US stocks lost ground overnight following grim economic data and mixed earnings reports.

US unemployment claims topped 30 million on the back of COVID-19-prompted lockdowns and consumer spending has plummeted, while Amazon and American Airlines’ earnings disappointed traders.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said there was no single cause for the ASX plunge.

While the local market had followed Wall Street lower on more economic gloom, the financial results of giants such as Apple and Amazon had been soft rather than terrible, Rodda said.

“If you try and find a single cause for the selloff, it’s simply not there,” he said.

Some traders may have decided to book profits after the ASX recorded its best month since 1988, Rodda said.

The All Ordinaries index finished April up 9.5 percent.

The big miners were all trading lower.

BHP slid $2.17, or 6.71 percent, to $30.18. Fortescue fell 68 cents, or 5.69 percent, to $11.28, while Rio slipped $4.52, or 5.17 percent, to $82.98.

Among smaller banks, Bendigo was hard hit, down 40 cents, or 6.12 percent, to $6.14.

NAB was the worst hit of the big four – lower by 89.5 cents, or 5.28 percent, to $16.06.

ANZ shares suffered a 85 cents loss, or 5.03 percent, to $16.05, while Commonwealth Bank dropped $2.65, or 4.23 percent, to $60.04, and Westpac was lower by 59 cents, or 3.62 percent, to $15.69.

The gold miners did not escape punishment, either. Newcrest was down 7.41 percent to $25.50, and Northern Star lost 6.41 percent to $11.97.

Evolution lost 4.5 percent to $4.88.

A rare bright spot on the ASX was US-based respiratory health company ResMed, which boosted ventilator production for COVID-19 patients.

It reported revenue increased by 16 percent to $US 769.5 million ($A1.19 billion) for the three months to March 31.

ResMed shares jumped 5.34 percent to $24.65.

Other health stocks were also the least affected in the wider morning downturn.

CSL lost 1.43 per cent to $305.01, while Ramsay Health Care shed 0.57 percent to $62.25.

One Australian dollar buys 64.75 US cents at 1200 AEST, down from 65.43 US cents at Thursday’s close.

The price of gold is $US 1686.84, down from $US1716.01 at the previous close.

By Steven Deare in Sydney