In the vicious market sell-off so far in 2016, only seven stocks on the ASX 200 have risen. Every other company, bar two flat traders, has been sold off.
The ASX opened at its lowest point in two and a half years on Monday, as investors consider worrying macro trends and are less inclined to respond to stock-specific issues.
No sector is in the green. Operationally geared and highly leveraged financial and mining stocks have been the biggest drags on the market, whereas companies earning and operating in US dollars, like healthcare stocks, and some bond proxies, like real estate investment trusts, have been the best of a bad lot.
Credit Suisse's Damien Boey said the sell-off came as investors grappled with murky Chinese data and was continuing with 2015's momentum, where banks and resources were out of favour.
"The baggage from last year is still carrying over to this year," Mr Boey said. "Most notably concern about China, where it's difficult to get a clear read on the economy. The official economic data is known to be very smooth and so you can't take the numbers at face value. Investors are going after what went well last year."
Healthcare is the best of a bad lot, down the least at 3.84 per cent since the start of 2016. Tentative rises in Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, up 1.3 per cent, has cushioned the sector's fall, helped by rises in Primary Health Care and ResMed, up 1.28 per cent and 0.07 per cent respectively.
The financial and mining sectors have been the biggest drags on the ASX. Materials have fallen 9.32 per cent and financials 8.12 per cent, continuing the momentum from last year where they were the worst performing sectors.
Defensive stocks lose their shine
Stocks like BHP Billiton, down 12.32 per cent, and Rio Tinto, down 9.9 per cent, tend to be sensitive to movements in the overall market and are exposed to China's economic fortunes.
Traditional defensive stocks, like Telstra and Woolworths, have not received any safe-haven buoyancy, mostly because of their changing circumstances and structural challenges. Supermarkets are facing increased competition and the advent of the NBN has stripped Telstra of its safe-haven crown.
"In this environment, investors are scrambling and they can't buy what they traditionally did, like Telstra and Woolies, because they're not as defensive any more," Mr Boey said.
The telco sector has fallen 6.76 per cent since trading resumed in January, with Telstra down 8.21 per cent.
Woolworths has fallen 5.84 per cent and Wesfarmers, owner of rival Coles, has fallen 5.56 per cent.
Interestingly, a depressed oil price has not weighed as heavily on the energy sector as might have been expected. Energy stocks have fallen 6.06 per cent in 2016,making it the third-best-performing sector.
"Most people are still projecting a long-term oil price which is higher than what it is today. They're certainly not projecting oil prices will stay at $35 a barrel," Mr Boey said.
"It is surprising energy stocks haven't gone down that much but it's investors saying, 'this is a temporary phenomenon due to oversupply issues and weakness in China'."
The best-performing stocks on the ASX in 2016 have been gold producers, shadowing a sharp rise in the spot gold price as investors pile into the traditional safe-haven asset class.
Evolution Mining has performed the best, up 3.78 per cent, followed by Regis Resources and Australia's biggest gold producer Newcrest Mining, up 3.45 per cent and 3.39 per cent respectively.
JB Hi-Fi is up 2 per cent since the year's trading began, mostly driven by rival Dick Smith Electronic's public downfall and the opening of a potential sales shift.
"Because the uncertainty is driven by something we struggle to measure and struggle to understand – that is, information from China – there is a natural and rightful aversion to some of the risk actually coming out from there," Mr Boey said.
"I suspect we could face a rocky time on the ASX till halfway through the year, when the Chinese currency adjustment may be done."