Australia markets closed

ASX200 has best day ever with 5.8pct gain

Derek Rose
Investors are facing another wild day on the ASX with the futures pointing to a sharp fall

The Australian share market has surged as investors snapped up blue-chip banks, supermarket, healthcare and mining stocks at bargain prices.

A day after suffering its worst day on record, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 has its best day on record, closing up 291.4 points, or 5.83 per cent, at 5,293.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 274.6 points, or 5.43 per cent, at 5,332.8 points.

"It's a good day, isn't it," said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir.

"We haven't crawled back from yesterday's fall, but it was a good day."

The financial sector was the biggest gainer, rising 9.2 per cent as all the big banks made up most of Monday's losses.

Commonwealth gained 13.3 per cent to $67.64, Westpac rose 8.0 per cent to $17.25, NAB climbed 6.8 per cent to $17.21 and ANZ rose 11.9 per cent to $18.40.

Elsewhere in the sector, Suncorp gained 12.8 per cent to $9.70 and shares in the ASX itself rose 12.6 per cent to $72.93.

The mining sector rose 9.0 per cent as BHP gained 11.9 per cent to $28.21, Rio Tinto gained 6.9 per cent and Fortescue Metals rose 10.8 per cent to $10.69.

Goldminers were up as well, with Newcrest rising 10.6 per cent and Northern Star soaring 19.7 per cent even as the price of the precious metal dropped to around $US1,488 an ounce, after trading for as much as $US1,700 last week.

With consumers stockpiling basic goods, supermarkets were up, with Woolworths rising 9.7 per cent to $39.85 and Coles gaining 8.4 per cent to $17.22.

Wesfarmers gained 5.9 per cent to $37.96.

There was a stream of profit warnings and trading updates due to the economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Qantas fell 5.3 per cent to a nearly four-year low of $2.86 after slashing 90 per cent of international flights and haulign back on domestic routes.

Crown fell 1.7 per cent to $7.16 after it extended its social distancing plans for gamblers to the Perth casino.

Beverage bottler Coca-Cola Amatil and aged care provider Estia Health suspended earnings guidance amid coronavirus uncertainty.

Coca-Cola dropped 0.1 per cent to $10.01 while Estia retreated 7.8 per cent to $1.18.

Crude oil briefly fell under $US30 a barrel - its lowest level since January 2016 - as analysts pushed back the time frame for economic recovery.

Santos said it was reviewing all its capital spending plans in light of the collapse in oil prices and will stop all new hiring.

Its shares fell 5.3 per cent to $3.71 but Woodside lifted 5.2 per cent to $18.90.

Even with Tuesday's the gains the ASX200 is still down 26.5 per cent in the 18 trading days since February 20.

The Aussie dollar meanwhile was buying 60.86 US cents, up from a nadir of 60.96 US cents on Monday, which was its lowest level against its US counterpart since 2003.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Tuesday up 291.4 points, or 5.8 per cent, at 5,293.4 points

* The All Ordinaries closed up 274.6 points, or 5.43 per cent, at 5,332.8 points

* The SPI200 futures index closed up 238 points, or 4.7 per cent, at 5,286 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 60.90 US cents, from 61.59 US cents on Monday

* 64.81 Japanese yen, from 65.46 yen

* 54.53 euro cents, from 55.32 cents

* 49.76 British pence, from 49.87 pence

* 101.05 NZ cents, from 101.97 cents.