ASX closes below 7000pts despite rally

·3-min read

Australia's share market has closed below 7000 points for the first time in a week after coronavirus infections worried investors, but a second-half rally gave hope for Thursday.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 20.4 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 6997.4 on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries closed lower by 23.3 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7258.8 points.

The indices were down as much as 1.45 per cent after the first two hours trading, following gloom over world COVID-19 infections.

India reported its highest daily death toll (1,761), while Canada and the United States extended a land-border closure for non-essential travellers.

Wall Street closed lower.

CCZ Statton Equities' John Zemek said analytics software provider Nuix's news that it would not meet prospectus forecasts compounded the early downbeat mood.

"Nuix was a star float of 2020, so they got absolutely hammered today," he said.

Nuix revealed many customers had moved to cheaper licensing. It revised full-year revenue down to a range of $180 million to $185 million, from $193.5 million.

Shares plummeted and closed lower by 15.38 per cent to $4.29.

Yet an ASX second-half rally, particularly in industrials, health and materials shares, trimmed losses.

Mr Zemek had hope.

"Our market has picked up from its low point. It's not all that bad," he said.

"The iron ore price is phenomenal. Miners are still talking good production with a fantastic price."

The price of the steel-making commodity was trading at about $US190 ($A246) per tonne, and was the bright side to BHP's report that first-quarter output dipped.

The miner said iron ore production totalled 59.9 million tonnes, down four per cent from the December quarter, due to bad weather and planned maintenance impacts.

Boss Mike Henry said the company was still positioned to finish the year strongly.

Shares were down by more than two per cent early, but improved to close lower by 0.51 per cent to $47.21.

Fortescue and Rio closed little changed.

Health shares were best and gained more than one per cent.

Market heavyweight CSL closed up 1.52 per cent to $267.95.

Energy and information technology were the worst hit shares.

The price of Brent crude oil slipped to $US66 per barrel after virus developments that will likely stifle domestic and international travel.

Beach and Oil Search lost more than two per cent to close at $1.71 and $3.82 respectively.

Santos signed a gas supply deal with Rio Tinto, continuing the relationship between the two.

The energy provider will supply 15 petajoules of natural gas to the miner's operations in Western Australia, from late this year.

Shares were down 1.14 per cent to $6.94.

In IT, Appen shed 4.52 per cent to $15.64. WiseTech Global lost 3.62 per cent to $30.63. Afterpay declined by 2.72 per cent to $121.82.

In banking, the ANZ fell 0.84 per cent to $28.42, the Commonwealth was higher by 0.49 per cent to $88.17, NAB lost 1.09 per cent to $26.21 and Westpac fell 1.03 per cent to $24.98.

On Thursday, wealth manager AMP and energy provider Woodside will give first quarter updates.

The Australian dollar was buying 77.21 US cents at 1722 AEST, lower from 78.08 US cents at Tuesday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 20.4 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 6997.4 on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 23.3 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7258.8 points.

* At 1722 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up by one point, or 0.01 per cent, to 6970.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.21 US cents, from 78.08 cents on Tuesday

* 83.40 Japanese yen, from 84.71 yen

* 64.22 Euro cents, from 64.72 cents

* 55.43 British pence, from 55.80 pence

* 107.50 NZ cents, from 108.09 cents.