Roller coaster Australian shares dip again

The stock market was marginally lower at noon, dragged down by banks and energy stocks as the latter are hammered in an oil price war.

The volatile benchmark S&P/ASX200 jumped as high as three per cent in early trade but was down 32.3 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 4,920.9 at noon AEDT on Thursday.

The broader All Ordinaries index sank 50.1 points, or one per cent, to 4,948.7 as the energy index fell more than five per cent.

Oil stocks slid again despite a lift in the price after a crash overnight amid a price war.

Woodside fell 6.33 per cent to $16.14, Santos dipped 8.95 per cent to $2.85, Oil Search took a 12.91 per cent hit to $2.125 and Beach fell 9.27 per cent to $1.01.

The market has seen a flood of profit warnings amid unprecedented travel bans as the spread of the coronavirus pandemic continues to cause chaos.

Qantas sank 9.49 per cent to $2.29 after grounding all its international flights until the end of May.

BlueSco pe Steel says Malaysia's lockdown and a US halt to auto production are potentially disruptive so it will withdraw guidance.

It's shares were up 52 cents, or 5.53 per cent, at $9.92, possibly on news its business had been broadly in line with expectations as China ramped up.

Homewares trader Adairs cancelled its interim dividend and scrapped its guidance. Its shares were down 20 per cent at 74 per cent at noon.

Media giant Nine slumped 7.8 per cent to 94.5 cents after it said the COVID-19 impact had begun to affect earnings.

Banks led market higher after 30 minutes of trading but had done an about-face by midday.

Commonwealth Bank lost 32 cents to $63.63 as Westpac retreated 34 cents to $15.56. NAB reversed 43 cents to $15.58 and ANZ fell 46 cents to $15.58.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda says signs of stress are building everywhere and it's leading to a market environment of extreme panic.

"There are red flags everywhere as fears bu ild that the global economy is headed for recession and the financial system is heading towards a crisis,' he said in a note.

The local market is waiting to hear the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy announcement on Thursday.

Economists expect it to cut interest rates and launch its first-ever quantitative easing program.

The Australian dollar was buying 57.18 US cents at noon AEDT, down from 59.98 US cents on Wednesday, which was the lowest level since 2003.

Australian Associated Press

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