ASX 200 drops on Friday

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX:XJO) dropped on Friday after being dragged down by CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) on COVID-19 vaccine news.
The post ASX 200 drops on Friday appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

ASX 200

The S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) fell by 0.6% to 6,643 points.

Here are some of the highlights from the ASX today:

CSL Limited (ASX: CSL)

The CSL share price fell more than 3% after the healthcare giant decided to abandon the phase 2 and phase 3 trial of the University of Queensland (UQ) COVID-19 vaccine.

CSL said that the COVID-19 vaccine from UQ elicits a robust response towards the virus and has a strong safety profile. There were no serious adverse events or safety concerns reported in the 216 trial participants.

However, the phase 1 trial data showed the generation of antibodies directed towards the molecular clamp component of the vaccine, which interfere with HIV diagnostic assays (tests). The potential for this cross-reaction had been anticipated before the commencement of the trial. Participants were fully informed prior to their involvement so that this could occur.

Blood samples from study participants were tested after vaccination and it was found that these molecular clamp antibodies did cause a false positive of a range of HIV assays. Follow-up tests confirmed that there is no HIV virus present. CSL stated that there is no possibility the vaccine causes infection.

With advice from experts, CSL and UQ have worked through the implications that this issue presents to rolling out the vaccine into broad populations. It is generally agreed that significant changes would need to be made to well-established HIV testing procedures to accommodate rollout of this vaccine. Therefore, CSL and the Australian Government have agreed that vaccine development will not proceed to phase 2 or phase 3 trials.

Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT)

The Afterpay share price went up around 5% after investors learned the ASX 200 buy now, pay later (BNPL) business had won over some new retailers in Canada.

According to reporting by media, Afterpay has partnered with fashion and beauty retailers SHEIN, Rains, Triarchy and Clarins.

Melissa Davis, head of North America for Afterpay said: “Afterpay is growing rapidly in Canada, especially among Millennial and Gen Z consumers, because our service helps young shoppers budget their own money and pay over time. In doing so, our retail partners benefit by attracting new, highly engaged young consumers – helping them increase sales, basket sizes and conversion during the most important retail season of the year.”

It was also reported that last month Afterpay launched cross border shopping, providing its Canadian retailers access to its international network of young and engaged shoppers.

Eagers Automotive Ltd (ASX: APE)

ASX 200 car dealership business Eagers announced an update today. It said that for the year ending 31 December 2020, it’s expecting to deliver an underlying operating profit before tax from continuing operations in the range of $195 million to $205 million for 2020, compared to $100.4 million. This guidance reflects the full year of trading for the enlarged company after its merger with Automotive Holdings Group.

The company said that vehicle sales have continued to rebound strongly from the historical lows experienced during April and May 2020. Customer orders have continued on their strong trajectory and supply constraints caused by global manufacturer factory closures during the June quarter have started to ease as shown by the 12% increase in national vehicle deliveries recorded during November by VFACTS.

Management said that the industry’s tight inventory position, along with its cost reduction initiatives that have been implemented, have helped the strong underlying trading performance.

The Eagers share price went up 3%. 

Zip Co Ltd (ASX: ZIP)

BNPL business Zip announced today that it was partnering with Facebook to help small and medium sized Australian businesses to use Zip Business to pay for advertising on the social platform.

Currently in the testing phase, the service will enable small businesses advertising on the platform to reach online shoppers without impacting their cashflow.

The Zip share price finished the day higher by around 2%.

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Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of CSL Ltd. and ZIPCOLTD FPO. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

The post ASX 200 drops on Friday appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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