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Asian Stocks Down as Gilead’s Remdesivir Reported to Have Failed Clinical Trials

By Gina Lee – Asian stock markets were down on Friday morning as they could not hold onto their gains from the day before.

Down Under, the ASX 200 was the lone bright spot as it gained 0.63% by 10:34 PM ET (3:34 AM GMT).

Japan’s Nikkei 225 slid 0.84% even as the Bank of Japan contemplated replacing its government bond-purchase target to allow unlimited buying. Neighboring South Korea’s KOSPI was down 0.60%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.49%. Elsewhere in Greater China, China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.61% and the Shenzhen Component gave up its earlier gains to lose 0.28%.

The slide came as investors digested Thursday’s Financial Times report that Gilead Sciences' (NASDAQ:GILD) antiviral drug remdesivir failed its first randomized clinical trials.

The trials were testing the efficacy of the drug in treating the COVID-19 virus, and their failure is viewed as a step back in the race to treat the virus. Johns Hopkins data said that there were almost 3 million global COVID-19 cases and almost 200,000 deaths as of April 24.

The company disputed the report, noting that the study was “terminated early due to low enrollment,” and left Gilead “underpowered to enable statistically meaningful conclusions. As such, the study results are inconclusive.”

The bad news kept on coming as the U.S. reported an additional 4.427 million initial jobless claims for the past week overnight. Analyst forecasts prepared by had predicted 4.2 million claims.

“There is a long list of pretty jaw-dropping data, just in the last 24 hours,” Nerida Cole, managing director at Dixon Advisory, told Bloomberg.

“Market pricing is certainly on the optimistic side - that it will be a rosy path out of this crisis - and that’s where investors do need to be quite careful.”

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