(Australian Associated Press)
The Australian share market has snapped seven days of gains with a major sell-off that left every sector in the red.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Wednesday down 55.9 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 6,689.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries fell 53.8 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 6,794.7 points.
“A pretty disappointing day for Australian investors, given the leads from overseas,” said CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy.
The ASX also underperformed compared to its peers, which Mr McCarthy attributed to “digestion issues” following a strong September and end-of-month profit taking.
It was the index’s worst day since a 102-point decline on October 2.
“The big story is Woolworths and Costa Group,” Mr McCarthy said.
Woolworths dropped 1.4 per cent to $37.20 after the supermarket giant announced it had underpaid 5,700 staff as much as $300 million over the past nine years.
Costa Group shares plunged 18 per cent to $2.63 after they resumed trading following a six-day freeze.
Australia’s largest horticultural company is having to hold a $176 entitlement offer to firm up its balance sheet after drought and hot weather hurt its avocado, blueberry and citrus crop yields.
Dragged by Costa and Woolworths the consumer staples sector fell 1.4 per cent, making it one of the worst-performing sectors, which is “not something we see very often,” Mr McCarthy said.
Telecom shares dropped 1.5 per cent and the tech sector also dropped by 1.4 per cent.
All the big banks were lower with Commonwealth and ANZ both falling 1.0 per cent, to $79.69 and $27.64, respectively; and Westpac and NAB both down 0.6 per cent, to $28.55 and $28.93.
Mining shares collectively fell 1.0 per cent amid a retreat in iron ore prices, with BHP down 1.2 per cent to $36.20; Rio Tinto down 1.1 per cent to $91.20; and Fortescue Metals down 1.9 per cent to $8.79.
Goldminers were mostly up, however, with Northern Star rising 1.2 per cent and Evolution up 1.5 per cent, although Newcrest fell 2.2 per cent.
Buy now, pay later company Zip Co fell 12.2 per cent to $3.95 after reporting margins had shrunk in the September quarter as it spends more on growth initiatives in the build-up to Christmas.
Elsewhere in the lay-by space, Afterpay was down 3.0 per cent, Flexigroup down 2.3 per cent, Splitit fell 4.4 per cent and Sezzle dropped 0.4 per cent.
Genworth Mortgage gained 10.6 per cent to $3.96 after announcing it would pay shareholders a special dividend after a strong quarter and renewing its supply and service contract with Commonwealth Bank through to the end of 2022.
Odds for a cash rate cut next week on Melbourne Cup Day, meanwhile, seemed to dim after the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that inflation inched higher to 1.7 per cent in the September quarter.
The market had been predicting about a 15 per cent chance of a rate cut and that fell to a five per cent chance after the inflation figures were released.
The Aussie dollar is buying 68.63 US cents, from 68.57 US cents on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 55.9 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 6,689.5 points
* The All Ordinaries closed down 53.8 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 6,794.7 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed down 53 point, or 0.79 per cent, to 6,670.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT
One Australian dollar buys:
* 68.62 US cents, from 68.57 US cents on Tuesday
* 74.69 Japanese yen, from 74.73 yen
* 61.77 euro cents, from 61.80 cents
* 53.33 British pence, from 53.34 pence
* 108.09 NZ cents, from 107.69 cents.