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Australia Market tumbles as coronavirus uncertainty

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The Australian share market tumbled on Monday, 23 March 2020, as the sectors mostly fell amid fears over the economic impact of the global coronavirus outbreak continue to weigh heavily on investor sentiment. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index tumbled 270.60 points, or 5.62%, to 4,546.00. The broader All Ordinaries tanked 290.20 points, or 5.98%, to 4,564.10.

Investor confidence continued to waver, amid uncertainty linked to the coronavirus and just how damaging this could be for the global economy. This came even amid efforts from governments and central banks to prop up major economies, shield jobs, and provide liquidity to markets amid the coronavirus pandemic. The global coronavirus outbreak continues to spread rapidly across the world, with the number of infected now over 294,000 and more than 12,900 lives taken, according to data from the World Health Organization.

The heavily weighted financial subindex dived more than 10%, with shares of the country's so-called Big Four banks all selling off steeply: Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 7.5%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia dropped 6.7%, Westpac declined 9% while National Australia Bank slipped 8.8%.

Virgin Australia (VAH) expects a material reduction in its domestic capacity' as a result of Federal and State Government COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Flight Centre (FLT) has decided to cancel the $40.1m interim dividend payment due to be paid to investors on April 17.

The travel agent remains suspended on the local market and has fallen by 75% from the A$40.04 high hit on February 20.

Sydney Airport (SYD) declined after announcing it no longer expects to invest the previously forecast $350-$400m in CAPEX over the year due to COVID-19. Property group Stockland (SGP) has removed its guidance for both funds from operations and distributions for the 12 months to June following heightened uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

CURRENCY: The U. S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 102.537 after breaching the 100 level last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.5721 following highs above $0.6 seen last week.

Crude oil prices were mixed in the Asian hours on Monday as international benchmark Brent crude futures fell 2.67% to $26.26 per barrel. U. S. crude futures, on the other hand, recovered from an earlier drop to rise 0.97% at $22.85 per barrel.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 10:47 IST