The Australian share market plunged more than 7 per cent lower at the start of trade, wiping out the gains from the end of last week.

The losses had been pared by 11.30am (1:30pm NZT) though, down 4.7 per cent to 5276.6, with investors wincing ahead of a "totally wild" trading week as increasingly tight travel restrictions in response to the spread of coronavirus shuts down major economies and cripples supply chains.

Despite the gloomy conditions, the ASX was tipped to rise at the open but the Federal Reserve's aggressive decision to slash rates to zero sucked confidence out of investors both here and abroad.

Burman Invest chief investment officer Julia Lee said this emergency package from the US, which included plans to embark on quantitative easing, only served to lift panic levels.


"We've seen US futures move down and all sectors on the Australian share market are trading lower," she told

The decision to slash rates right back to zero in the US means global banks will come under pressure and the local finance sector is struggling early as a result.

"Given the global backdrop, not only with interest rates but also recessionary conditions, the banks are falling," Lee said.

The major lenders were particularly hard hit early with Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB and ANZ down between 3.4 and 5.4 per cent.

Analysts say global stocks will continue to be at the mercy of the deadly disease this week as case numbers rise and Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced all international travellers would be forced to self-isolate from this morning.

"The situation in global markets currently is totally wild," IG market analyst Kyle Rodda said in a note this morning.

"The core issue is the coronavirus, of course. But at the stage the crisis is in now, for the markets, everything centres on which place in the world is grinding to an economic halt, and what emergency measures policymakers are taking to support economies through the tumult.

"Signs of stress on the financial system remain as conspicuous as they've been since the GFC. And by extension, volatility remains very high."


Rodda said the increased volatility would lead to erratic movements both higher and lower, as illustrated in Friday's session.

Traders were left speechless when the ASX closed more than 4 per cent higher on the last day of the week after slumping as low as 8 per cent during the day – a swing of more than 12 per cent.

"From a fundamental economic point of view, the top concern right now is a US recession," Rodda said.

"The markets seemed to welcome the Trump administration's new package to combat that risk.

"It declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency and promised a range of measures, including freezing interest on student debt and providing free coronavirus tests," he said.

The market has now lost A$529 billion ($536.4b) since its all-time high reached just three weeks ago on February 20.


Both the United States and New Zealand central banks aggressively cut interest rates to zero and 0.25 per cent as part of a global trend to prepare for the financial crisis spurred by the pandemic.

The Aussie dollar is swinging in a 2 per cent range based on the levers being pulled by policymakers across the planet.

It weakened when the RBNZ cut its rates and strengthened when the Federal Reserve did the same. At 10.30am Sydney time, the Aussie was buying 61.85 US cents, down from 62.98 US cents as the market closed on Friday.