ASX down as biotech company CSL scraps cardiovascular drug trial

The Australian sharemarket fell on Monday after biotech giant CSL dropped its plans to continue with a major drug trial.

The benchmark ASX 200 index dropped 0.4 per cent, or 30 points, to finish the session at 7614.90 points.

The broader All Ordinaries also fell 0.31 per cent to close at 7860.30 points.

Six of 11 sectors rose, with technology increasing one per cent.

JB Hi-Fi boosted 7.13 per cent despite reporting a 19.9 per cent drop in profit compared to this time last year.

The tech company’s net profit was $264.3m after it banked $5.16bn in sales over the half year.

However, health care slumped 3.2 per cent after CSL announced it would abandon its phase three trial for a drug designed to reduce the risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.

CSL fell 4.8 per cent following the announcement.

The decision came as the study “did not meet its primary efficacy endpoint” and there are “no plans for a near-term regulatory filing”, the company reported.

The trial was part of the company’s plan to transform the treatment of heart attack patients.

CSL’s decline accounted for more than three-quarters of the fall in the index.

Meanwhile, Beach Energy – which is majority owned by billionaire Kerry Stokes — gained 3.3 per cent and Aurizon added 3.2 per cent after reporting.

BHP dropped 0.5 per cent and Rio Tinto lost 0.7 per cent.

The Australian dollar fell 0.1 per cent to finish at US65.17c.

In banking, CBA was the worst performing of the big four banks closing with a drop of 0.58 per cent, while ANZ climbed 1.26 per cent.

Westpac was up 0.31 per cent and NAB closed 0.71 per cent higher.

Meanwhile, as a new day dawns on Wall Street, the S&P 500 is riding high after it closed above the 5000 for the first time in history on Friday.

The Dow Jones slipped by 54 points, or 0.1 per cent, at closing on Friday while the Nasdaq jumped 1.2 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Lunar New Year holiday resulted in a quieter trading due to the celebrations.

Originally published as ASX down as biotech company CSL scraps cardiovascular drug trial