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Markets

Australian shares creep higher as tech stocks gain, healthcare stocks sink further

  • Energy stocks, down 0.9%, tracked a downturn in oil prices as new coronavirus-related restrictions in New York stoked demand concerns.
Published December 14, 2020

Australian shares crept higher on Monday, bolstered by gains in tech stocks after Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was authorised in the United States, though healthcare stocks sank further after Australia abruptly stopped production of a homegrown vaccine.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.14% at 6,651.6 points by 1140 GMT. The benchmark closed lower in the previous session, but posted six straight weeks of gains.

The US Food and Drug Administration granted an emergency use authorisation for Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine, with the first inoculations expected within days.

Among sectors, the top gainers were tech stocks, rising up to 1.5% to a record high. Afterpay and EML Payments were among the top boosts, gaining 4.2% and 1.8%, respectively.

Financials climbed as much as 0.7%, with the so-called "big four" banks adding between 0.5% and 1.5%.

Australia's decision to suddenly halt its COVID-19 vaccine programme on Friday continued to batter healthcare stocks , which fell for a third straight session to their lowest in two months.

Shares of CSL, which was developing the vaccine with the University of Queensland, extended losses to a third day, falling 1.7%.

Energy stocks, down 0.9%, tracked a downturn in oil prices as new coronavirus-related restrictions in New York stoked demand concerns.

Index heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos lost around 1.3% each.

Crown Resorts fell 1.2% after law firm Maurice Blackburn launched a second class-action lawsuit regarding the firm's share price slump in October.

In New Zealand, the benchmark was down 0.2% at 12,890.59 points by 1140 GMT. The stock exchange experienced a brief delay in opening due to connection issues, which were resolved soon.

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