Australia markets closed

ASX finishes worst week in over 11 years

Derek Rose
Australia's share market is in for another rollercoaster day as the coronavirus impact spreads

The Australian share market has finished its worst week since October 2008 with a modest daily gain.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 finished Friday up 33.7 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 4,816.6, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 44.9 points, or 0.93 per cent, to 4,854.3.

The market gained on the open and was up as much as 4.8 per cent around lunchtime but sunk lower as the afternoon wore on.

"We're just hanging on to the gains," CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said.

"There's not a huge enthusiasm in the market right now.""

For the week the ASX200 finished down 727.2 points, or 13.1 per cent, its worst week since a 734.8 point, 15.7 per cent plunge during the global financial crisis.

It's down 33.1 per cent in the 21 sessions since February 20, with the market mostly shrugging off fiscal and monetary stimulus measures amid fears of the coronavirus crisis.

Still, Friday's session was a relief from the wild swings of recent days.

It was the first day in two weeks in which the ASX200 didn't at least gain or drop at least three per cent - after not doing so at all last year.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said volatility seems to be diminishing, "arguably thanks to some extraordinary steps from economic policymakers to support the financial system and the global economy in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak".

Property trusts were the biggest gainers on Friday, collectively up 8.9 per cent after the sector suffered a massive 43.9 per cent drop over the previous 11 sessions.

Goodman Group gained 17.9 per cent to $11.44, Mirvac climbed 15.3 per cent to $1.965 and Dexus was up 5.8 per cent to $9.33.

The energy sector gained 4.5 per cent as the price of oil climbed 2.4 per cent to $US28 a barrel as US President Donald Trump moved to top up the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Santos climbed 10.9 per cent to $3.05 and Oil Search was up 15.3 per cent to $2.34, while Woodside Petroleum was up a more modest 0.6 per cent to $16.

Some blue chips sold off however.

Woolworths dropped 6.1 per cent to $37.47, Wesfarmers dropped 4.6 per cent to $33.28 and CSL fell 4.6 per cent to $270.88.

Telstra fell 6.1 per cent to $3.07 after announcing it was freezing its job cutting program for six months, suspending late payment fees and disconnections and inviting stood-down Qantas employees to apply for 1,000 temporary jobs to help virus-proof the economy

Three of the four big banks gained after falling to their lowest levels in decades over the past couple weeks.

ANZ finished up 6.8 per cent to $16.02, NAB rose 7.5 per cent to $15.66 and Westpac gained 8.5 per cent to $15.77.

Commonwealth Bank - which has not suffered as steep losses as the other three - fell 1.7 per cent to $59.91.

In the mining sector, BHP dropped 1.2 per cent to $27.01 but Rio Tinto gained 1.8 per cent to $82 and South32 climbed 1.1 per cent to $1.77.

Meanwhile the Australian dollar rebounded a little after falling on Thursday to as low as 55.08 US cents, its lowest level since 2002.

At 1714 AEDT, one Aussie was buying 58.82 US cents, up from 56.89 US cents at Thursday's ASX close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Friday up 33.7 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 4,816.6 points

* The All Ordinaries closed up 44.9 points, or 0.93 per cent, at 4,854.3 points

* At 1713 AEDT the SPI200 futures index was up 53 points, or 1.11 per cent, at 4,848 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 58.82 US cents, from 56.89 US cents on Thursday

* 64.73 Japanese yen, from 61.93 yen

* 54.72 euro cents, from 52.12 cents

* 50.47 British pence, from 49.39 pence

* 101.79 NZ cents, from 101.08 cents..