Australia markets closed

Aust stocks plunge, snapping gain streak

Derek Rose
Australian investors could see shares rise for a fourth straight day after another US stock rally

Australia's share market has plunged again following three days of gains, smashing any incipient hopes that the bear market is finished.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index gained two per cent in early trade but then faded throughout the day to finish Friday down 270.9 points, or 5.3 points, to 4,824.4.

The broader All Ordinaries index closed 261 points, or 5.08 per cent, at 4,874.2.

"It's quite a tumble," said CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian.

For the week the market finished just 25.7 points up, or 0.5 per cent, with three days of gains totalling 567.2 points sandwiched by two days of losses on Monday and Friday.

"We're just hanging on to the gains," Mr Daghlian said.

"I think there's a bit of cautiousness heading into the weekend, with how COVID-19 infections could unfold and government reactions."

The US House of Representatives still has to vote on a $US2.2 trillion ($A3.6 trillion) stimulus measure, while 3.3 million people have filed for unemployment benefits - six times the United States' previous record.

"Things are not looking great," Mr Dahglian said.

Every sector was lower on Friday with real estate the worst hit, falling 8.7 per cent as and Mirvac fell 10.1 per cent and Goodman Group dropped 10.7 per cent.

Scentre Group dropped 12.5 per cent as it and Premier Investments exchanged words over whether proper protocols were followed after two of Premier's workers were allegedly exposed to coronavirus-positive customers at one of Scentre's Brisbane malls a fortnight ago.

In the financial space, the big banks fell between six and seven per cent.

Commonwealth dropped 6.7 per cent to $57.66, NAB fell 6.3 per cent to $15.12, ANZ dropped 7.4 per cent to $15.47 and Westpac fell 7.1 per cent to $14.89.

The mining sector dropped 4.9 per cent as BHP fell 5.4 per cent to $29.03, Rio Tinto dipped 2.7 per cent to $85.78 and Fortescue Metals dropped 8.8 per cent to $9.60.

Goldminers were not immune to the sell-off, with Newcrest down 4.9 per cent, Evolution dropping 7.2 per cent and Northern Star down 7.5 per cent.

Wesfarmers fell 7.3 per cent to $32.25 and Woolworths dropped 5.3 per cent to $34.80 after saying it was creating 20,000 new jobs to meet a surge in demand.

Woodside Petroleum sagged 6.4 per cent to $16.84 after saying it would cut spending by 50 per cent and defer final investment decisions on a number of key projects.

Homewares trader Adairs and Kathmandu joined the ranks of retailers temporarily closing doors.

Adairs was down 8.9 per cent at 72 cents and Kathmandu gained 13.0 per cent to 95.5 cents.

The Australian dollar was buying over 61 US cents for the first time in eight days, trading at 61.06 US cents, up from 59.14 US cents as the market closed on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished on Friday down 279.9 points, or 5.3 per cent, at 4,842.4 points

* The All Ordinaries closed down 261 points, or 5.08 per cent, at 4,874.2 points

* At 1723 AEDT the SPI200 futures index was up 78 points, or 1.6 per cent, at 4,903 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 61.08 US cents, from 59.14 US cents on Thursday

* 66.23 Japanese yen, from 65.40 yen

* 55.19 euro cents, from 54.21 cents

* 49.72 British pence, from 49.92 pence

* 102.21 NZ cents, from 101.69 cents.