Market heavyweight CSL was down almost three per cent after scrapping its coronavirus vaccine project with researchers, while the major banks also contributed to a lower Australian market.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 22.8 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 6660.3 at 1200 AEDT on Friday.
The All Ordinaries was lower 15.8 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6901.3.
Market heavyweight CSL was down 2.97 per cent to $292.32 after it and University of Queensland abandoned trials of a vaccine candidate.
Some participants returned false positive results for HIV, after scientists used harmless HIV fragments.
The federal government has scrapped the purchase millions of doses, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing increased orders for other vaccine candidates to ensure enough for Australians.
The blow for CSL meant the healthcare sector dropped 2.24 per cent.
Financials was down 0.58 per cent but materials and energy were higher 0.69 and 1.76 per cent respectively.
The vaccine setback comes after Wall Street mostly fell following the most unemployment claims in three months, high numbers of COVID-19 infections and US politicians unable to strike an economic stimulus deal.
Meanwhile Australia’s national cabinet has met for the final time this year and agreed on some measures to help business.
The Commonwealth will provide special seasonal worker visas confining labourers to particular states.
The government’s JobTrainer program is operating in all states and territories except the Northern Territory.
On the ASX, miner and exploration company IGO was a standout, up 27.10 per cent to $6.41.
IGO has raised $446 million from a share sale to corporates and will soon raise $58 million from an underwritten share sale to individuals.
Chief executive Peter Bradford said the funds would help IGO supply clean energy metals and build a global lithium business.
Major miners continue to do well from demand for iron ore.
BHP rose 1.08 per cent to $42.94, Rio Tinto gained 0.38 per cent to $115.83 and Fortescue was up 1.82 per cent to $22.92.
Coal miner Whitehaven had a 7.57 per cent rise to $1.70.
In the financial sector, AMP Australia has named Scott Hartley as chief executive.
Mr Hartley was chief executive of Sunsuper and will report to AMP group chief executive Francesco De Ferrari.
In banking, the big four banks as well as Macquarie were lower by less than one per cent.
Earlier in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.23 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 0.13 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.54 per cent.
The Aussie dollar was buying 75.34 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 74.77 US cents at Thursday’s close.