Global tech slump sparks ASX nosedive as spooked investors pull out of growth shares

Technology stocks continued their tumble, pulling the ASX into a nosedive that followed a poor performance on Wall Street, where investors are spooked by looming rate hikes.

The Australian sharemarket fell for a second day on Thursday, with all 11 sectors in the red, signalling the index’s cracking start to the New Year may have been short lived.

The benchmark ASX 200 index declined by 207.50 points, or 2.74 per cent, to finish the session at 7.358 after a dip on Wednesday that followed Tuesday’s near five-month high.

The broader All Ordinaries fell by 220.30 points, or 2.79 per cent, to close at 7.697 points, while the Australian dollar took a slight hit to be worth 71.72 US cents.

Investors’ cold feet for tech saw the sector struggle all day to end up with a 6 per cent downturn and four of the 10 worst-performing companies.

Tech giant Afterpay suffered for a second day in a row on Thursday, with its shares falling by 10.76 per cent, leading a downturn of other big names in the sector including Xero, WiseTech and Life 360, which all dropped by more than 6 per cent.

Shares in lithium batteries player Novonix fell by almost 7 per cent, just two days after it gained the most out of many strong performers as the ASX soared.

Openmarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said tech suffered the biggest single-day fall since February last year and there was not much positive news found elsewhere in the market.

The second day of Australia’s tech slump followed a rather dismal trading period on the Nasdaq, which fell by 522.544 points or 3.1 per cent overnight.

Wall Street has been rattled by expectations the central Reserve Bank will soon raise interest rates to fight inflation as part of a wider shift towards traditional, tighter policy settings.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda said a rate hike dimmed the attractiveness of investing in growth companies, prompting a big move out of tech and healthcare stocks globally.

“Really it’s just by virtue of that that we’ve seen the ASX down today and markets are a little bit nervous as we’re waiting to see how aggressively the feds are going to decrease policy support,” he said.

“There’s no area of the market that hasn’t been touched by higher level interest rates.”

Investors may be in for a nervous end to the trading week, with another wave of sell-offs once fresh US employment data arrives in the next couple of days.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy topped the Australian sharemarket on Thursday with a 1.6 per cent rise, but it wasn’t enough to offset the energy sector’s 2.5 per cent downturn.

Materials fared the best of any sector, but still suffered an overall drop despite Rio Tinto gaining 0.7 per cent to $101.21, copper miner Oz Minerals rising by o.6 per cent to $28.95 and BHP increasing by a modest 0.12 per cent to $42.68.

Just eight companies secured gains on the index, including a rare health sector win by Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals, whose shares rose by 0.41 per cent to $26.88.

Pinnacle Investment Management shares beat Afterpay to secure the biggest hit of the day, falling by 13.14 per cent to $13.68.

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