Trump addresses the US on coronavirus and triggers ASX sell-off: ASX tracking 2.5% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

The Australian share market dropped at the open and is now tracking 2.5 per cent lower at noon. US President Donald Trump has just addressed the nation, putting restrictions on all travel to the US from Europe except the UK. This will go into effect from Friday evening US time. Italy has been hit the hardest, with over 12,000 confirmed infections and more than 800 deaths. France, Spain and Germany each have about 2,000 confirmed cases. Restrictions were already in place from China and Iran. Coronavirus is having major impact on the markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 143 points down at 5,583. On the futures market the SPI is 122 points lower.

Broker moves

UBS has upgraded Medibank Private (ASX:MPL) from a sell to a neutral. The impact of coronavirus on health insurers is likely to mean lower travel insurance revenue while lower bond yields will also have an impact. With hospital utilisation set to slow if the outbreak continues to spread, UBS believes Medibank Private could experience greater earnings support.Target price is reduced to $2.70 from $2.80. Shares in Medibank Private (ASX:MPL) are currently 1.1 per cent lower at $2.73.

Company news

Integrated Research (ASX:IRI) has signed a significant renewal and extension software licence agreement with JP Morgan Chase, for a total contract value of US$10 million. The contract is a binding agreement with a term of 5 years, for products in our Payments and Infrastructure portfolio. JP Morgan Chase has been a customer of IR for over 25 years, with the IR Prognosis solution providing realtime payment transaction data to support business-critical decisions. Shares in Integrated Research (ASX:IRI) are currently 0.9 per cent lower at $2.79.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Consumer Staples lost the least at 0.02 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Materials losing the most at 3.7 per cent lower.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Pro Medicus (ASX:PME) rising 7.9 per cent to $17.97, followed by shares in Nearmap (ASX:NEA) and CIMIC Group (ASX:CIM).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT) dropping 12.4 per cent to $21.01, followed by shares in Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR) and Webjet (ASX:WEB).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,649 an ounce.
Iron ore price is 2.2 per cent down at US$90.05.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.5 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 64.61US cents.