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ASX flying high on Covid-19 vaccine hopes

Jessica Yun
·4-min read
Medical syringes are seen with Pfizer company logo displayed on a screen in the background in this illustration photo taken in Poland on October 12, 2020. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
The world just got one step closer to the release of a Covid-19 vaccine. (Photo illustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Australian share market has closed in the green today, though it lost some of the momentum from the morning and early afternoon.

The benchmark ASX 200 closed up 41.7 points or 0.66 per cent to 6,340.5 points, while the broader All Ordinaries finished 28.3 points, or 0.43 per cent higher to 6,544 points.

The major bourse was primarily dragged down by NEXTDC, Arb Corp, Ramelius Resources, Afterpay and Fisher & Paykel, all of which dropped by 11 per cent or more.

Meanwhile, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) stock prices rose by an eye-watering 43.21 per cent as investors were buoyed by a return to bricks-and-mortar shopping amid Covid-19 vaccine hopes.

“This medical breakthrough is tremendous news for all and marks a major step in the global fight against the pandemic,” URW said in a statement to the ASX.

“This could have a significant positive impact on retail real estate in general, on URW in particular, especially on our operations and the completion of our disposal plan.”

What happened at lunchtime?

The Australian share market is flying high at midday trade today, with investors still in good spirits amid optimism about a Covid-19 vaccine.

At 12:31pm AEDT, the benchmark ASX 200 was up by 102.3 points or 1.62 per cent to 6,401.10 points, while the broader All Ordinaries rose by 86.9 points or 1.33 per cent to 6,602.60 points.

Unibail-Rodacom-Westfield is up 23.34 per cent, followed by Corporate Travel Management, up nearly 17 per cent.

What happened this morning?

The Australian share market shot higher after Wall Street hit record highs overnight on optimism that a Covid-19 vaccine was close to reality.

The benchmark ASX 200 rose by 110 points or 1.75 per cent to 6,408.8 points at 10:24am AEDT, while the broader All Ordinaries opened up 101.4 points, or 1.56 per cent higher to 6,617.1 points.

The best performers this morning are Scentre Group; Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield; and Oil Search, all of which have seen gains of 17 per cent or more so far. Scentre has risen by a whopping 26.97 per cent.

What happened on Wall Street overnight?

The Dow and S&P 500 hit intraday record highs overnight, peaking at 29,809.43 points and 3,634.31 points.

Investors were buoyed after a phase three clinical trial of a Covid-19 vaccine by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German drugmaker BioNTech was found to be strongly effective against the virus.

At the end of Monday, the Dow closed up 2.95 per cent higher and the S&P 500 was up by 1.17 per cent.

Meanwhile, tech-heavy stock index Nasdaq fell by 1.53 per cent, dragged down by Netflix, PayPal, Zoom and Peloton Interactive, all stocks that actually gained during the pandemic.

A vaccine spells a return to ‘normal’, so the end of the pandemic would take the wind out of these stocks’ sails.

What’s all this about the vaccine?

A review of data by an independent panel of experts found that the vaccine, developed in a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech, was found to be more than 90 per cent effective against the novel coronavirus among trial volunteers who received two injections of the vaccine three weeks apart.

ANKARA, TURKEY - OCTOBER 27: A health care worker holds an injection syringe of the phase 3 vaccine trial, developed against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by the U.S. Pfizer and German BioNTech company, at the Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital in Ankara, Turkey on October 27, 2020. This vaccine candidate, within the scope of phase 3 studies, was injected to volunteers in Ankara University Ibni Sina Hospital. (Photo by Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A health care worker holds an injection syringe of the phase 3 vaccine trial, developed against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by the U.S. Pfizer and German BioNTech company. (Photo by Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

No serious safety concerns have been reported, the company said.

And if those results remain at that high level, it puts the vaccine on par with other highly effective childhood vaccines such as measles, the New York Times reported.

“This is a historical moment,” said Pfizer head of vaccine research development Kathrin Jansen.

“This was a devastating situation, a pandemic, and we have embarked on a path and a goal that nobody ever has achieved — to come up with a vaccine within a year.”

William Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice president of vaccine clinical research and development, told US-based medical publication STAT he had been in vaccine development for 35 years but “this [was] extraordinary”.

“This really bodes well for us being able to get a handle on the epidemic and get us out of this situation,” he added.

Pfizer is aiming to manufacture enough doses to immunise 15 to 20 million people by the end of the year.

While there are dozens of Covid-19 vaccines currently in development around the world, the latest development makes Pfizer the first to announce positive results from a late-stage vaccine trial.

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