Coronavirus chaos is causing congestion as high trade volumes clog the systems of brokers.

“We are seeing high volumes of trading today,” onliner broker Commsec, which is owned by the Commonwealth Bank, says in a message to website customers.

“Please be advised that our contact centres are busier than usual and you may experience longer than usual wait times.”

At about 2.45pm on Friday the benchmark ASX200 index was down 2.9%, with the falls led by the Harvey Norman retail empire controlled by Gerry Harvey.

Harvey Norman shares have plummeted more than 11% so far today. While other retails have suffered from coronavirus contagion this week, until today, when it released a disappointing profit result, the Harvey Norman empire had largely escaped unscathed.

Also smashed were gold miners Gold Road Resources – down 14% – and Silver Lake resources, which was down more than 10.5%.

But every sector has been hammered today, with all but 13 stocks in the index recording a fall.

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Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish are among riders who will be tested for the coronavirus after the UAE Tour was cancelled on Thursday when two participants contracted Covid-19.

The final two stages of the race were due to take place on Friday and Saturday but the race was abandoned when the Italian duo were taken ill. All riders and staff were confined to their rooms at the Crowne Royal Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island, with concerns that the potential outbreak could now extend to the UCI world track championships in Berlin after some riders who took part in the early stage of the UAE Tour already in Germany.

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Asia Pacific shares in freefall again

Asia Pacific stocks are being hammered for the fifth day running as investors scramble to offload shares and other risky assets.

The Nikkei is down 3.2% in Tokyo adn the ASX200 in Sydney is down 2.4%. In Seoul, the market is down 2.3%, Hong Kong has shed 2% and Shanghai is off by 1.7%. It follows a record points loss on Wall Street on Thursday.

Safe havens benefited in contrast. US 10-year bond yields hit another record low 1.241%. It last stood at 1.274%. The move indicates a strong likelihood of further rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year.

Michael Batnick

There are 25,504 rolling 5-day returns going back to 1915.

This was the 47th worst.

Worse periods were the Depression, WWII, 1987, Dotcom Bubble, GFC.

February 28, 2020

Tomoaki Shishido, senior economist at Nomura Securities in Tokyo, said the Fed would not even have to wait for data to make up its mind:

We don’t even need to wait for economic data to see how badly the economy is being hit. You can tell that the sales of airlines and hotels are already falling by a half or something like that. It is fair to say the impact of the coronavirus will be clearly much bigger than the US-China trade war. So the Fed does not have a reason to take a wait-and-see stance next month.

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