Australian shares have dropped for the first time, after seven consecutive days of gains.
The run was the market’s longest “winning streak” since July 2009, and the drop came after Johnson & Johnson delayed trials of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
The ASX 200 index closed 0.3 per cent lower at 6,179 points.
However, it was a miniscule loss compared to the ASX’s surge (+7pc) over the previous seven sessions.
The Australian dollar had also fallen (-0.6pc) to 71.7 US cents, on reports that China has stopped taking shipments of Australian coal.
It was also weaker because the US dollar rebounded from a three-week low.
Currency traders rushed to the safety of the greenback after a participant in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine became ill, and the company said it would take at least a few days to evaluate the situation.
J&J said it did not yet know if that person was given the vaccine or a placebo.
Investors see the quick introduction of a vaccine as key to helping economies recover.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has revised its forecasts and is predicting Australia’s economy will face a shallower-than-expected hit in 2020.
Westpac also struck an optimistic note by saying consumer confidence surged to its highest level since July 2018, thanks to a “popular Budget” from the Federal Government.
Pricing in ‘perfection’
US drug maker Eli Lilly has also paused clinical trials of its COVID-19 antibody treatment, similar to one taken by US President Donald Trump recently, because of a safety concern.
Whether you’re worried about the economy or when you’ll next be able to see your family in person,