The ASX 200 index finished 2.3 per cent lower on Wednesday, extending this week’s losses to around 6 per cent.
- The ASX 200 lost 2.3 per cent to close at 6,708, while the All Ords finished down 2.4 per cent at 6,791
- The Australian dollar held above 66 US cents most of the day but fell late to 65.89 — near a fresh 11-year low
- Highly priced tech and biotech stocks were hardest hit in Wednesday’s sell-off, while funeral operator Invocare had the second biggest gain
In total, around $138 billion has been wiped from the value of Australian stocks so far this week, although the market remains slightly higher than it started the year.
Australian shares followed Wall Street’s second straight drop overnight, where the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 3 per cent.
The ASX 200 index closed 159 points lower at 6,708, while the broader All Ordinaries index dropped 2.4 per cent to 6,791.
Wednesday’s major casualties were tech and biotech companies that were trading at high valuations relative to their earnings.
Loss-making biotech start-up Polynovo lost more than 20 per cent, as its profit results also disappointed.
However, even Australia’s biggest biotech firm, CSL, lost 4.1 per cent to $310.59.
Tech firms Appen and WiseTech also fell heavily (10.3 and 8.3 per cent respectively).
Delayed coronavirus reaction
Share markets have roared blithely higher as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in China, but that complacency appears to have been punctured in the biggest sell-off for two years, writes Ian Verrender.
However, gold was no safe haven on Wednesday, with the precious metal trading at $US1,644, off recent peaks, and smaller miners such as St Barbara down 7.4 per cent and big player Newcrest sliding nearly 3 per cent.
While 186 of the top 200 companies lost ground, 13 firms did rise, a few quite spectacularly.
Healthcare provider Healius jumped 15.2 per cent on the prospect of a $2.1 billion private equity takeover bid, while funeral operator Invocare surged 13.6 per cent on a strong profit report and as a rare potential financial beneficiary if a coronavirus pandemic did arrive in Australia.
The Australian dollar held above 66 US cents most of the day but fell late to 65.89 — near a fresh 11-year low.
See how the day unfolded on our blog.
Live: ASX follows global share plunge