ASX 200 top trades: gold stocks spike, iron ore miners fall

As volatility spikes, we examine the best and worst performing stocks and sectors from the day.

By the market close, the ASX 200 was down 0.4% – finishing out the week at the 7,022 point mark. In step with those declines, the A-VIX index – which measures market volatility – rose as much as 1.2% during the day.

ASX 200: top performing stocks

The ASX’s top performing stocks of the day were mostly goldminers – likely as investors rushed to gain exposure to the defensive characteristics of the precious metal – long-regarded as a hedge against uncertainty.

Goldroad saw its share price rise 9.00%, Saracen Mineral gained 3.05% and Northern Star moved up 3.14%.

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At the opposite end of the market, the beaten-down WiseTech continued its recovery today – rising 3.13% – to $28.03 per share.

The tech-focused company had previously come under fire from US-based hedge fund, J Capital, which accused WiseTech of misstating its organic growth figures, amongst other concerns.

Richard White, WiseTech’s CEO and Founder, staunchly rejected all of J Capital’s claims.

Overall, the company looks to have shrugged off those accusations to some degree, with its share price having rebounded ~17% in the last month.

Worst performing stocks on the ASX 200

Orocobre, Netwealth, Mayne Pharma, Steadfast and CIMIC made up some of Australia’s worst performing stocks for the day.

Volatility by sector

Almost all sectors were in the red by the afternoon – with Consumer Staples and A-REITs being the lone exceptions.

The A-REIT index posted moderate gains by the afternoon – up 0.54% – to 1,679 points.

The Consumer Staples index was also up – if just by a little, rising a scant 0.28% to 13,371 points by the afternoon.

Besides that, the ASX was dominated by bearish activity, though it should be noted that the blue-chip benchmark continues to trade around all-time-highs.

The Energy sector was by far the worst performer today – with the (XEJ) index dropping 187 points or 1.69%.

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FMG, BHP and Rio Tinto share prices drop

After Energy, Australia’s dominant Materials sector was the next worst performing: falling 1.14% or 159 points by the market close.

In step with that, Australia’s largest pure-play iron ore miner – Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) – saw its stock sold-off heavily: dropping 3.30% by the afternoon.

BHP Group and Rio Tinto also experienced losses today.

This may have been compounded by declines in the iron ore market, with the Fe Fines 62% spot price falling below US$80 per tonne during the day.

Looking at yesterday’s iron ore market commentary from the Metals Market Index (MMi), it was also noted that:

‘Ships leaving mainland China after Feb 1, 2020 for Australia will be quarantined for 14 days and iron ore shipments to China may be influenced to some extent.’

The MMi further pointed out that:

‘Mills are increasingly planning to conduct maintenance, which may also reduce demands for iron ore.’

Given Australia’s dependence on China-bound iron ore exports, it's unsurprising that Australia’s mainstay miners have come under pressure in recent weeks, as concerns over the true economic impact of the Novel Coronavirus persist.

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