CANBERRA, Nov 20, 2020, NCA NewsWire. The Australian sharemarket was on track for its fifth straight day of gains but closed marginally lower after a late sell-off, Perth Now reported.
The S&P/ASX200 finished 0.2 per cent softer at 6539 while the All Ordinaries Index was 0.1 per cent weaker at 6740.
It snapped a four-day winning streak but the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index still remains at near nine-month highs not seen since the pandemic took hold.
Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes noted California had effectively instituted a statewide stay-at-home mandate as more than 40 counties were in the “purple/widespread” COVID-19 zone.
However, CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said vaccine progress was keeping investors optimistic.
“That’s a game-changer if we do get a vaccine sooner rather than later. That’s why this is what the market has been most encouraged by,” he said.
He said Mesoblast was a standout performer after announcing an exclusive worldwide licence and collaboration with Novartis for the development, manufacture and sale of a stem cell product to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome, including ARDS associated with coronavirus.
Mesoblast shares leapt 11.3 per cent to $3.64.
Another strong stock was footwear retailer Accent Group, which owns brands including The Athlete’s Foot. It reported much higher than expected sales results for the financial year to date and plans to open dozens more stores.
Accent Group shares jumped 6.46 per cent to $1.89.
Shares in investment company Washington H Soul Pattinson, well known for its pharmacies, slumped 5 per cent to $27.75 after Regis Healthcare rejected its unsolicited, cash takeover offer of $1.85 per share.
Regis Healthcare shares rocketed 23.39 per cent to $1.82.
Lithium and iron ore miner Mineral Resources rose 5.18 per cent to $29.87 after investors happily received growth plans outlined at Thursday’s annual general meeting.
Rio Tinto added 0.54 per cent to $99.45 while fellow mining colossus BHP dropped 1.01 per cent to $36.14.
ANZ backtracked 0.49 per cent to $22.34, Commonwealth Bank put on 1.43 per cent to $80, National Australia Bank inched 0.13 per cent higher to $22.73 and Westpac firmed one cent to $19.91.
The Aussie dollar was fetching 72.97 US cents, 54.92 British pence and 61.37 Euro cents in afternoon trade.