By Arpit Nayak
Australian shares fell on Friday by their most in four months, after a sharp sell-off in technology stocks sent Wall Street’s main indexes to their worst session since June.
The S&P/ASX 200 index settled 3.1 per cent lower at 5,925.5 in broad-based selling. For the week, the benchmark fell 2.4 per cent, marking its biggest weekly decline since June 12.
Overnight, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slumped 5 per cent, with tech giants Apple and Microsoft weighing the most.
The U.S. tech sector that has led this amazing rally since March-lows finally came a little bit unstuck, said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Perth-based investment house Argonaut.
“I think there was a certain inevitability about it and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some more,” Rooney said.
Adding to woes, Australia’s Victoria state reported a record 59 deaths on Friday, including previously unrecorded deaths in aged care facilities, while authorities suggested restrictions in the state may remain even after the current six-week lockdown comes to an end.
Investors are now awaiting U.S. payrolls figures, due at 1230 GMT, which could trigger further sell-offs if the numbers miss economists’ expectations that about 14 million jobs were created in August.
Tech stocks were the hardest hit on the Australian benchmark, falling 5.6 per cent in their biggest daily loss since March 23. Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay plunged 6.7 per cent, while Xero eased 5.7 per cent.
BHP Group eased 3.8 per cent and dragged miners to a near two-month low as iron ore futures in China snapped a six-session rally.
Financials and healthcare stocks also declined 3 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1.9 per cent to 11,824.31, after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said coronavirus curbs would stay in place until at least mid-September.