* CSL, James Hardie among few gainers after raising forecast
* Healthcare stocks at near 2-month high
* NZ50 on track to gain for 11th session in the run up to
Oct 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched down on
Wednesday as halted vaccine trials and uncertainty around a U.S.
fiscal stimulus package hit sentiment, though a jump in
healthcare stocks led by CSL Ltd capped losses.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1% to 6,191.30 by 0018
GMT, after closing 1% higher in the previous session.
Most sub-indexes were in the red but healthcare stocks
remained a bright spot, climbing 1.7% to a near
two-month high, powered by biotech major CSL.
The company raised its full-year profit forecast as it
expected higher demand for vaccines, plasma and recombinant
products amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But overall sentiment was sombre after drugmaker Johnson &
Johnson said on Tuesday it was pausing clinical trials
of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate due to an unexplained illness in
Later in the day, rival Eli Lilly & Co also said it
would halt its coronavirus antibody trial on safety concerns.
Diminishing hopes for the passage of a U.S. coronavirus bill
also added to the gloom after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
rejected the $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief proposal from the
White House, calling it inadequate to support the
Heavyweight financial stocks led losses, falling
1.1%. The "Big Four" lenders slid between 1% and 1.5%.
The energy sub-index shed 1.2%, with the country's
largest independent gas and oil producer Woodside Petroleum Ltd
and smaller peer Beach Energy Ltd losing about
Among top gainers, buildings materials supplier James
Hardie Industries Ltd jumped 4.4% after raising fiscal
2021 outlook on experiencing solid demand for its services.
Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
was up 0.3% to 12,489.20, on track to gain for the eleventh day
in the run up to the election on Oct. 17.
Top percentage gainers were logistics provider Mainfreight
Ltd, up 5.18%, followed by Infratil Ltd,
(Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi