Australia’s stock market closed 1.3 per cent lower today with the S&P/ASX200 at 6923.3 points and the All Ords falling 101 points lower, a decline of 1.4 per cent, at 7019.9 points. The indices dropped as much as 1.7 per cent on the open before firming up in the early afternoon.
The energy sector was the worst performer, down 4 per cent, as stocks in oil companies and oil industry services tumbled. Worley fell 8.5 per cent to $13.95, and Oil Search dropped 7.2 per cent to $6.72 after the Papua New Guinea government walked away from talks with Oil Search’s joint venture partner Exxon over its liquefied natural gas expansion plans, threatening a broader $20 billion gas export program. Perenti Global dropped 6.2 per cent to $1.44, and NRW Holdings fell 5.7 per cent to $2.95.
The materials sector declined 2.2 per cent with BHP falling nearly 3 per cent, Rio Tinto falling 1.9 per cent, and Fortescue Metals closed 3.4 per cent lower at $11 after falling to $10.81 during the opening sell-off.
Companies with a broad exposure to Chinese consumers were sold-off amid concerns about the impact of travel bans imposed to reduce the spread of the Coronoa Virus and a slow down in the Chinese economy. International education company IDP Education dropped 6.7 per cent, and Treasury Wines hit a one-year low of $12.30.
Utilities out-performed by ending the day 0.1 per cent higher, thanks to a 0.9 per cent gain gas pipeline owner APA Group. Healthcare, real estate, and consumer staples also out-performed. Woolworths managed to hit a new high during trading of $42, but closed at $41.82.
The Australian dollar closed higher at US67.02¢, while China’s yuan fell against the greenback and was at 7-yuan-per-dollar on Monday for the first time since Christmas Eve.