The ASX recovered from another sharp fall at the open to end the day flat, with investor sentiment wavering on the uncertain outlook for earnings.

After US crude futures for May fell into negative territory at the start of the week, oil markets continued to deteriorate into Wednesday with prices falls extending through spot markets and later-dated future contracts.
European crude futures for June tumbled to $US16 a barrel late in the day, down more than 75 per cent year-to-date. While June-delivery contracts on the US market fell to as low as $US10 a barrel, or 83 per cent below where it was at the start of the year.
Thisled to the S&P/ASX 200 Energy Index underperforming the broader benchmark by 1.1 per cent, with Oil Search falling 3.6 per cent to $2.41, and Woodside Petroleum sliding 1.5 per cent to finish the day at $19.60.
Beach Energy shares slid further than most peers after releasing its quarterly results for the three months to March 31 on Wednesday.
The collapse in oil prices saw the company report a 30 per cent fall in realised oil prices over the period, offset in part by higher production and natural gas prices. Beach Energy shares ended the day 3.9 per cent lower at $1.24.
Earnings declines are expected to surface in most sectors in the coming months, putting pressure on the rally that has carried share prices off the lows recorded in March.
“The modelling work we’ve done suggests that earnings are probably going to be down at a global level around 30 to 40 per cent,” Mr Doyle said.
“That doesn’t match with an equity market in the US that is now only down 10 to 15 per cent [from its February high],”
Mr Doyle explained that given the outlook, the sharemarket gains over the last month are unlikely to mark the end of the lows.
“I think it will ultimately come down to what damage is done to economies but, probably more importantly for equity markets perspective, what damage is done to profits.
“We’ve added a little bit of equity back into our portfolios, but we’re still think it erring on the cautious side, expecting to get another another move down.”
The disruption caused by the pandemic was on display in results released by lithium producer Orocobre on Wednesday.
The company said the average price it achieved per tonne of lithium sold in the March quarter was half the amount that it received during the same period last year, with the falls attributed to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
Investors viewed the quarterly report positively, however, with Orocobre’s shares ending the day 1 per cent higher at $2.08. The majority of other lithium producers fell on Wednesday, with Galaxy Resources sliding 3.4 per cent to 72¢, Lake Resources down 2.9 per cent to 3.4¢ and Mineral Resources ending the day at $16.09, or 2.4 per cent below its previous close.
Other company updates delivered share price gains, lead by WiseTech Global. It rose 16.8 per cent to $16.09 after telling investors it was on track to achieve its earnings guidance.
After Virgin Australia’s entry into voluntary administration, airlines and other travel-exposed companies were sold down: Air New Zealand lost 8.1 per cent to close at $1.20, Qantas Airways dropped 6.4 per cent to $3.36 and Flight Centre fell 6 per cent to $9.20.
Defensive sectors were the best performing by market capitalisation lead by the utilities companies. APA Group climbed 0.7 per cent to $10.91, hydropower company Meridian Energy gained 3.1 per cent to close at $4.33 and AGL Energy rose 1.9 per cent to $17.32.
Index heavy-weight CSL lifted the health sector, with demand for the company’s shares driving prices up by 2.1 per cent to $313.05.