Dow, S&P Hit Highs; Trump Comment Hammers Drug Stocks

(Reuters) -

The S&P 500 and the Dow hit record intraday highs on Wednesday, helped by gains in technology stocks, but President-elect Donald Trump’s comment on drug pricing slammed the healthcare sector.

Trump, in an interview with Time magazine, said he would bring down drug prices.

The S&P 500 healthcare index swiftly lost 1.56 percent, while the Nasdaq Biotechnology index dropped 3.8 percent – set for its worst day in nearly two months.

Trump’s effect was seen on Tuesday as well, with Boeing’s stock falling after his tweet that an order for a revamped Air Force One plane should be canceled as it was too expensive.

“I think it is a new fact of life going forward, that fundamentals can be swept aside any day by comments from the (President-elect),” said David Donabedian, chief investment officer of Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management.

Pfizer’s shares fell 2.5 percent to $30.78 after Britain’s competition watchdog fined the drugmaker $107 million for its role in ramping up the cost of an epilepsy drug by as much as 2,600 percent.

Nine of the top 10 stocks weighing on the S&P 500 were drug-related, with Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer having the biggest impact.

The healthcare sector caught a bid in the post-election rally following the defeat of Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, who had been critical about drug pricing. However, Trump’s comments on Tuesday added fresh uncertainty to the industry.

Investors are also looking out to the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week, where they expect to hear the central bank’s views on Trump’s pro-growth policies and whether that could lead to more aggressive rate hikes in 2017.

At 12:40 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 84.84 points, or 0.44 percent, at 19,336.62. It had hit a record high of 19,345.45.

The S&P 500 was up 6.87 points, or 0.31 percent, at 2,219.1, a shade below the all-time high of 2,219.71

The Nasdaq Composite index was up 7.56 points, or 0.14 percent, at 5,340.56.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were higher, led by a 1.2 percent gain in real estate.

Technology stocks rose 0.56 percent – their fourth straight day of gains – providing the biggest boost to the S&P.

Celgene lost 5.4 percent to $111.03 following its announcement that it would drop trials for a combination of its cancer drug Abraxane with chemotherapy.

Western Digital rose 7.6 percent to $68.69 after the data storage maker raised its second-quarter profit and revenue forecasts. The stock was the top percentage gainer on the S&P.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,138 to 759. On the Nasdaq, 1,642 issues rose and 1,133 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 63 new 52-week highs and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 233 new highs and 24 new lows.