The Australian sharemarket has been rocked to the core by US President Donald Trump's Europe travel ban, dropping a staggering 7 per cent in lunchtime trade.
At 13.00 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 had fallen more than 405 points and more than 7 per cent.
The local market is now at its lowest level since December 2016, having wiped in excess of $100 billion today alone.
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CommSec market analyst James Tao said investors had been hoping for more detail Mr Trump's major stimulus package and those hopes were dashed pretty quickly.
"There was some expectation that he might give a bit more detail about the financial side of things but that didn't really come through," he told AAP.
Energy, materials, consumer discretionary and health care stocks were smashed on Thursday but the panic sell was across the board.
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Woodside fell 54 cents to $20.46 and BHP lost 96 cents to $27.56 at noon. BlueScope gained again, rising nine cents to $10.28.
Supermarket giant Woolworths was also among the few stocks on the rise just after midday.
It was 38.5 cents, or 1.07 per cent, higher at $36.43 at 1210 AEDT while rival Coles was nine cents, or 0.59 per cent, lower at $15.18.
Gold miners were hammered on Thursday after gold prices fell overnight as traders sold the precious metal to cover margins for stock markets shaken by the global spread of coronavirus.
Newcrest had fallen $1.65, or 6.2 per cent, to $24.98 by 1210 AEDT while Northern Star dropped 58.5 cents, or 4.5 per cent, to $12.405.
US equity markets plunged on Wednesday after details of a promised major US government stimulus response failed to appear and the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic.
The Australian dollar was buying 64.60 US cents at 1310 AEDT on Thursday, down from 65.05 US cents from at the market close on Wednesday.
- With additional reporting by AAP
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/asx200-lunchtime-nosedives-on-trump-travel-ban/8b1e26ef-5695-4637-bda5-b2cf375f8217