The Australian sharemarket fell for the first time in six days on the back of concerns over a spike in coronavirus cases in the northern hemisphere.
The S&P/ASX200 closed 0.5 per cent lower at 6418 while the All Ordinaries Index dipped the same amount to 6619.
CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said the market made gains in early trade but gave them up, with investor focus moving away from positive Pfizer vaccine trial results, which prompted Health Minister Greg Hunt to say on Wednesday Australians were on track to start getting jabs from March.
“Some of the media is blaming this (market fall) partly on the fact that the focus has shifted again to the big spike in coronavirus cases in the northern hemisphere and I think what’s important here is to take a look back and note just how strongly the market has done just this week,” Mr Daghlian said on Thursday.
“The market hit eight month highs over the last couple of sessions.”
Banks rode high earlier this week but weighed on the local bourse on Thursday, with ANZ down 1.1 per cent to $20.60, Commonwealth Bank dropping 1.79 per cent to $73.07, National Australia Bank falling 2.38 per cent to $21.30 after it went ex-dividend and Westpac slipping 1.87 per cent to $18.38.
Among energy stocks, which also jumped in recent days, Oil Search lost 0.28 per cent to $3.55, Woodside Petroleum dipped 0.62 per cent to $20.77, Santos gave up 1.5 per cent to $5.89 and Origin backtracked 2.08 per cent to $4.71.
Miners were a drag, with Fortescue slumping 4.34 per cent to $16.54, Whitehaven Coal losing 4.49 per cent to $1.17, Rio Tinto easing 0.7 per cent to $96.48 and BHP shedding 1.09 per cent to $36.45.
Travel stocks were mixed amid hopes the vaccine would trigger an industry recovery, with Qantas slipping 1.36 per cent to $5.07, Flight Centre inching 0.63 per cent higher to $16.04, Corporate Travel Management sinking 2.65 per cent to $19.50 and Webjet down 0.4 per cent to $5.04.
Telstra jumped 3 per cent to $3.08 after confirming its full-year profit forecasts and announcing it would split into three separate businesses in the biggest shake-up to the company since it was privatised in 1997.
Diversified conglomerate Wesfarmers gained 2.54 per cent to $48.78 after issuing a trading update showing hardware cash cow Bunnings had a 31 per cent surge in comparable sales growth for the financial year to date, while Target and Kmart booked comparable sales growth of 9.9 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively.
The Aussie dollar was buying 72.76 US cents, 55.08 British pence and 61.79 Euro cents in afternoon trade.
Originally published as ASX pulls back after recent rally