The JSE plummeted along with global stocks as heightened fears over the spread of the coronavirus outside of China escalated.
In Asia, the Nikkei was closed for a holiday however the main equity benchmarks on the Hang Seng and Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.79% and 0.4% respectively. Losses deepened in Europe where benchmarks tumbled by an average of at least 4%, while in the US stocks opened sharply lower. With this flight to safety, fundamentals took a backseat as investors dumped riskier assets in droves.
Emerging market currencies also took a knock as investors sort after the less risky US dollar. The local currency fell to a session low of R15.18/$ before it was recorded trading 0.92% lower at R15.13/$ at 17:00.
Most stocks on the local bourse plummeted on the day with more losses being recorded for stocks which are dependent on China's economic activity. Reports of lower production capacity amongst Chinese manufacturers has sent shivers across most global producers who trade with Chinese manufacturers.
Sibanye Stillwater [JSE:SSW] led most of the day's losers as it tumbled 11.15% to close at R41.94. China is a key market for most raw commodity producers therefore miners populated most of the day's biggest losers. Anglo American [JSE:AGL] fell 8.59% to close at R379.60, Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] lost 8.41% to close at R327.99, while Northam Platinum [JSE:NHM] tumbled 8.08% to close at R135.50.
Financials were not spared with losses being recorded for Standard Bank [JSE:SBK] which lost 5.06% to close at R151.46, as well as Momentum Metropolitan Holdings [JSE:MTM] which lost 4.53% to close at R18.95.
The Foschini Group [JSE:TFG] led losses among the major retailers as it fell 7.08% to close at R127.67, while Massmart [JSE:MSM] lost 5.54% to close at R47.76. Significant losses were also recorded for heavyweights such as Prosus [JSE:PRX] which lost 4.79% to close at R1108.00, Bid Corporation [JSE:BID] which dropped 5.47% to close at R298.98, as well as BHP Group [JSE:BHP] which closed at R304.30 after losing 6.09%.
The only gains of significance on the day were recorded for gold miners which rose on the back of the surge in the yellow metal's price. Harmony Gold [JSE:HAR] rocketed 14.33% to close at R67.80, Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] added 4.38% to close at R118.59, while DRD Gold [JSE:DRD] closed at R11.44 after gaining 3.25%.
Aspen Pharmacare [JSE:APN] eked out gains of 0.38% to close at R107.95, while Sirius Real Estate [JSE:SRE] gained 1.24% to close at R18.02.
The JSE All-Share index plummeted 4.28% while the blue-chip JSE Top-40 index slumped 4.46%. The resources index was the biggest loser amongst the major indices as it lost 5.6%. The industrials and financials indices lost 3.77% and 3.82% respectively.
Brent crude was not spared by the risk-off sentiment as the liquid gold was recorded trading 4.06% lower at $55.59/barrel just after the JSE close.
At 17:00, gold was up 1.9% at $1674.57/Oz, platinum had lost 1.14% to trade at $962.26/Oz, while palladium was down 2.67% at $2630.96/Oz.