Australia's share market was down more than five per cent at noon amid a chaotic stream of coronavirus news including rate cuts, travel bans, profit warnings, flight reductions and cash injections.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 291.3 points, or 5.26 per cent, at 5,248 at noon AEDT despite rate cuts to ease coronavirus financial pain by the Fed Reserve and other central banks.
The broader All Ordinaries index sank 290.7 points, or 5.2 per cent, to 5,300 as big financial stocks led the entire market down.
The Reserve Bank of Australia will give the banking system extra liquidity through its market operations as part of a package to ensure businesspeople and householders have access to credit.
But National Australia Bank was down 6.95 per cent at $17.13, the Commonwealth Bank fell 4.82 per cent to $63.16, ANZ plunged 6.22 per cent to $17.63 and Westpac fell 6.13 per cent to $17.01.
Economists and analysts say what investors most want to see is a peak in the number of cases of the deadly coronavirus, which continue to rise outside China.
China has reported few cases as Prime Minister Scott Morrison followed New Zealand's lead and ordered everyone arriving from overseas to self-isolate for 14 days.
The move has sparking profit warnings and flight cancellations and prompted companies to order their staff to work from home.
Qantas has risen 1.89 per cent to $3.24 after cutting more flights, Auckland International Airport lost 17.34 per cent to $5.53 as it suspended its earnings guidance, issued on Friday, amid the new travel restrictions.
Supermarket giants were among the few glimmers of green, with Coles shares up 19 cents at $16.24 while rival Woolworths gained 87 cents to $37.92.
Cochlear's shares dropped 18.50 per cent to $176.30 after suspending its earnings guidance due to the coronavirus.
Infrastructure group Downer EDI lost 10 per cent to $3.75 after the possible sale of its mining business to Perenti was suspended due to the market volatility caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Oil stocks have been falling amid a double whammy of sliding demand and an oil price war. Woodside Petroleum sank 8.44 per cent to $19.20 while Santos dived 10.48 per cent to $4.10.
The Aussie dollar was buying 61.59 US cents at noon AEDT, down from 62.98 US cents as the market closed on Friday.
Australian Associated Press