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Australia: Shares fall 3.6% on Wednesday, slide into bear market

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Australian stocks have entered a bear market after toying with the threshold earlier this week.

[SYDNEY] Australian stocks have entered a bear market after toying with the threshold earlier this week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 3.6 per cent on Wednesday, closing more than 20 per cent below its Feb 20 record. The benchmark retreated as investors were left waiting for details from the US on stimulus measures to counter the spreading novel coronavirus. Banks contributed the most to the gauge's move.

The benchmark flirted with a bear run on Tuesday but reversed losses amid promises of fiscal packages in the US and Australia. The index crumbled the next day after the Trump administration didn't unveil its plans as promised.

Over the past 14 trading days, growing concern over the economic impact of the virus sent Australian shares crashing from their February peak. Energy shares have led declines, followed by the technology and finance sectors. A price war for oil sent energy stocks tumbling on Monday, pushing the S&P/ASX 200 to its biggest one-day drop since 2008. BLOOMBERG