Major stock indexes dipped after a British biotechnology company said Tuesday that it was going to suspend its key next-generation flu vaccine trial because of delays in funding for the research. The news sent shares of GlaxoSmithKline and others down in morning trading.
Investors are watching closely to see whether governments and companies buy the vaccines before supplies run out. Trading in that market is important because vaccine companies need to make billions of dollars of revenue to sustain sales and support existing operations. One vaccine is even expected to go on sale by early next year, and there is skepticism among health policy analysts that it will end up being a blockbuster.
Leading consumer staples were among the worst performers in the market Tuesday morning, though the Nasdaq composite managed to hold on to gains by a little.
Drug companies moved sharply, with drug and health products companies accounting for the biggest percentage drops. Nestle led the losers after analysts at Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock because the firm lost some market share to rival Unilever, which is perceived as a bigger, stronger competitor.