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ASX plummets at the close; Nufarm jumps 26pc

ASX plummets at the close; Nufarm jumps 26pc

The Australian stockmarket finished 1.05 per cent higher over the September quarter, notching up its third consecutive quarterly gain as the Australian dollar posted its weakest quarter since 2016.

Pacing the quarterly advance in the S&P/ASX200 Index was Western Areas, with the nickel miner surging as the base metal was boosted by Indonesia bringing forward a ban on ore exports. Rival nickel play Independence Group was the seventh best performer in the quarter with a gain of 36 per cent.

Bellamy’s Australia, which is the target of a takeover offer from China Mengniu Dairy Company, was the second best performer with a gain of 57 per cent, followed by Smartgroup and Afterpay Touch with gains of 46 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.

Leading the laggards was Speedcast with a 64 per cent tumble, followed by lithium play Pilbara Minerals and UK bank CYBG with losses of 41 per cent and 39 per cent.

Among smaller stocks outside the S&P/ASX200 Index, Opthea – which develops treatments for eye disease – surged 400 per cent. Strike Energy, which appointed former Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Nev Power to its board last week, rallied 308 per cent over the quarter.

Among blue chips, Woolworths was a strong performer with a 12 per cent advance. National Australia Bank and Wesfarmers gained 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. CSL gained 8 per cent in the quarter.

South32 lagged with a decline of 17 per cent, while BHP dropped 10 per cent. Telstra fell 8 per cent.

The Australian dollar had a shocker in the quarter, with the currency weighed down by the Reserve Bank of Australia’s two interest rate cuts and weaker iron ore prices. Futures markets are pricing in a 74 per cent chance of a rate cut at tomorrow’s board meeting.

The currency fell 3.8 per cent against the US dollar – it’s biggest quarterly loss since the fourth quarter of 2016.

Australian 10-year bonds fell 30 basis points over the quarter, ending the month at 1.01 per cent. Domestic yields tracked the global slide in yields throughout the quarter.

It was the third consecutive quarter of lower yields on the benchmark bond – the longest streak of lower yields since the first three quarters of 2016.