* Woodside Petroleum records worst session in a week
* "Big Four" banks lose between 1.1% and 2.4%
* Tech stocks up 1.1%; Xero hits record high
Nov 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on
Thursday for the first time in six sessions, dragged down by
heavyweight financial and energy stocks, as the initial optimism
about progress in the development of a coronavirus vaccine
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5% lower at 6418.2.
"Investors are re-assessing the near-term implications of a
coronavirus vaccine", Margaret Yang, a strategist from DailyFX
wrote in note.
"The road ahead might not be a smooth sailing (one) as
challenges remain on the time horizon, manufacturing capacity,
delivery and storage of the vaccine."
Financials declined 1.5%, with all the "Big Four"
banks closing lower.
The energy index shed about 1%, even as crude prices
firmed on hopes that the world's major producers will halt
Woodside Petroleum dropped after it shelved talks
to sell stakes in a project to Chinese firms on the state of the
Sino-Australian diplomatic ties, which had worsened after
Canberra called for an inquiry into the source of the
Miners, heavily reliant on exports to China, also
fell 1.3%. Sector heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto
, lost 1.1% and 0.7% respectively.
But, tech stocks gained 1.1%, bouncing back from
steep losses this week when encouraging vaccine data prompted a
rotation away from the sector and lifted demand for battered
energy, airlines and travel stocks.
Accounting software maker Xero added as much as
6.7% to hit a record high after reporting a jump in its half
year profit. It closed 0.6% higher.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended
flat at 12670.62.
Film-related software developer Vista Group,
dropping about 4%, was the biggest percentage loser on the
benchmark index while exchange operator NZX advanced
more than 5%.
(Reporting by Deepali Saxena; editing by Uttaresh.V)