Stocks wobble, end mixed
Market reacts to the failed health care bill and hopes administration moves on to the corporate tax cut.
new york» U.S. stocks flirted with sharp losses but managed a mixed finish after Republicans canceled a vote on their health care bill because it became clear the bill would fail. Hospital stocks soared in response, while companies that stand to benefit from other Trump proposals faltered.
For the second day in a row, stocks started higher and wilted as it became clear the health care bill was in trouble. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged as much as 126 points in afternoon trading on reports of the bill’s impending failure, although Wall Street cut its losses after the vote was canceled. Consumerfocused companies like Nike, Starbucks and clothing company PVH rose.
The health care act became something of a proxy for the rest of the Trump agenda and it dominated the market for most of this week. It was the worst week for stocks since the week before the presidential election. Banks and small-company stocks, which made huge gains after Trump was elected, both suffered their biggest losses in more than a year.
President Trump and other Republican leaders said they were moving on from health care, and Michael Scanlon, a portfolio manager for Manulife Asset Management, said investors will be glad if that happens.
“You’re going to see a very quick pivot to corporate tax reform,” he said. A corporate tax cut could give stocks a large boost by increasing profits, and it might also raise tax revenue.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index finished down 1.98 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,343.98. The Dow lost 59.86 points, or 0.3 percent, to 20,596.72 as Goldman Sachs and Boeing sank. Technology companies inched higher and the Nasdaq composite rose 11.04 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,828.74. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1.22 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,354.64.
HCA Holdings, the largest U.S. hospital company, climbed $2.87, or 3.5 percent, to $86.04 and Community Health Systems jumped 84 cents, or 9.7 percent, to $9.54. Among Medicaid-focused companies, Centene and Molina Healthcare each gained about 5 percent. Insurance companies slumped. Cigna fell $3.36, or 2.3 percent, to $142.82 and Anthem shed $2.63, or 1.6 percent, to $126.77.
U.S. crude oil futures rose 27 cents to $47.97 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 24 cents to $50.80 a barrel in London.