Energy sector plummets 18.4% on oil price war: Aus shares drop 5.5% at noon

Market Reports

by Katrina Bullock

The coronavirus panic which plagued the international markets in late trade last week has now thrust the Australian market below the 6000-point mark. The market has lost over $400 billion in value since its peak last month. The slide continues this morning with the ASX200 down 5.5 per cent. The Energy sector is weighing heaviest on the market. It has plummeted to its lowest level in over 2 years, losing over 18 per cent this morning after crude producers launched an oil price war.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 342 points lower at 5,874. On the futures market the SPI is 333 points lower.

Broker moves

Macquarie has upgraded Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) from an underperform to an outperform, with a 12 month price target of $2.10. It comes as the company reports volume growth driven by extensive development in the Western Flank and Cooper Basin. The broker says that certainty has been boosted by a final investment decision on stage 2 at Waitsia and the company’s exploration success. Shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) are trading 21.7 per cent lower at $1.29 at noon.

Company news

Freedom Foods Group (ASX:FNP) today announced that Amber Stanley has resigned as joint company secretary with immediate effect. Ms Stanley will continue in her role as group general counsel of Freedom Foods. Campbell Nicholas, who was appointed as joint company secretary on 12 September 2016, is now the sole company secretary. He will continue in his role as Chief Financial Officer. Shares in Freedom Foods Group (ASX:FNP) are trading 8.8 per cent lower at $4.44 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The sector with the fewest losses is Utilities, dropping 1.7 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Energy, shedding 18.4 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN), rising 7.1 per cent to $4.66, followed by shares in Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) and Saracen Mineral Holdings (ASX:SAR).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Oil Search (ASX:OSH),dropping 30.7 per cent to $3.53, followed by shares in Santos (ASX:STO) and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading higher at US$1,699 an ounce.
Iron ore price fell 2.6 per cent to US$90.19.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a further fall of 3.4 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 66.12 US cents.