National output to fall by 10%: Aus shares close 2.5% lower

Market Reports

by Ortenzia Borre

The Australian share market fell at the open and continued to slide, closing 2.5 per cent down at the end of trade.

This afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the first restriction to be lifted across the country, permitting elective surgery to commence after this long weekend. It comes with 2.5 million people infected with Coronavirus worldwide.

Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) led the top 200 gains at for the session and Southern Cross Media (ASX:SXL) led the losses for the day.

The S&P/ASX200 index

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 132 points lower to finish at 5,221.

Futures market 

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 152 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a dip of 10 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a fall of 21 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 140 point fall tomorrow morning.

Broker moves

Morgans has rated South32 (ASX:S32) as an Add. The broker says production in the March quarter was close to expectations, despite the company removing guidance for several assets, confirming South32 appears in strong shape financially, with a strong balance sheet and ability to cut costs.However Morgans has noted its geographical spread has meant a larger impact from the pandemic compared with some of its peers that are more focused on Australia. Add rating maintained. Target is raised to $2.82 from $2.60. Shares in South32 (ASX:S32) closed 6 per cent lower at $1.87. 

BREAKING local economic news

RBA Governor Phillip Lowe has addressed the nation this afternoon, saying national output is likely to fall by around 10 per cent over the first half of 2020, with most of this decline taking place in the June quarter. He also said total hours worked in Australia are likely to decline by around 20 per cent over the first half of this year and the unemployment rate is likely to be around 10 per cent by June.

Company headlines from today's news

Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) has entered voluntary administration but will continue to operate its scheduled international and domestic flights to help essential workers and Australians returning home.

Burns treatment specialist company PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) reports pleasing trial results from their Pivotal Study IDE -- a step closer to US FDA June 2020 approval.

Regional Express (ASX:REX) has obtained Commonwealth funding, signing a Commonwealth Grant Agreement under the COVID-19 Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program.

Best and worst performers of the day

The sector with the fewest losses today was Utilities, losing 0.4 per cent, while the worst performing sector was Information Technology, shedding 4.9 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN), rising 5.1 per cent to close at $4.99. Shares in Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) and Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) followed.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Southern Cross Media (ASX:SXL), dropping 14.3 per cent to close at 12 cents. Shares in Metcash (ASX:MTS) and Avita Medical (ASX:AVH) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 2.1 per cent and the Shanghai Composite is 1.2 per cent down.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,691 an ounce.
Iron ore price added 1.5 per cent to US$87.45.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 2 per cent.
Light crude is US$0.94 up at US$21.37 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 63.17 US cents.