S&P/ASX 200 dips below flatline as miners and banks weigh the market down

Brent crude oil prices fell 0.2%, to US$42.37 a barrel on concerns that fuel demand will continue to fall due to rising COVID-19 cases across Europe and in the US.

Australian Strategic Materials Ltd - S&P/ASX 200
Spot gold fell 1.7% to US$1,890.01 per ounce as the US dollar rallied on an impasse over stimulus talks

S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX:XJO) was trading 6 points lower at 6,189 at around 1.17 pm following losses on Wall Street overnight, with the major US indices falling for the first time in five sessions.

The declines on the ASX were led by financials, materials and energy stocks. Gains for healthcare, technology, consumer staples and discretionary were offsetting these losses to an extent.

Australia’s big four banks were all in the red with Westpac (ASX:WBC) falling 1.77%, Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) down 0.88% and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) falling by 1.71%.

Commodity prices fell overnight, which is being reflected in the materials sector with mining major Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) down 1.21% and BHP Group (ASX:BHP) 0.43% lower.

COVID-19 vaccine trial paused

Johnson & Johnson has temporarily halted its COVID-19 vaccine trial after one of its participants became sick.

"We have temporarily paused further dosing in all our COVID-19 vaccine candidate clinical trials, including the Phase 3 ENSEMBLE trial, due to an unexplained illness in a study participant," the company confirmed in a statement.

The pause means the online enrolment system has been closed for the 60,000-patient clinical trial while an independent patient safety committee is convened.

Top gainers

Today’s top gainers on the ASX include Australian Strategic Materials (ASX:ASM) (+10.91%), TNT Mines Ltd (ASX:TIN) (+15.00%), Cirralto Ltd (ASX:CRO) (+12.12%), Eclipse Metals Ltd (ASX:EPM) (+12.50%) and Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU ) (+11.11%).

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