Stock Rally Sputters After Vote On Health Bill Is Delayed


After a promising start, U.S. stock indexes gave up an early rally and ended mostly lower Thursday after Republicans delayed a vote on their health care bill and left investors concerned about delays for the business-friendly agenda of President Donald Trump.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 96 points just before 1 p.m., but doubts about the bill cast a shadow over the market as hardline conservatives said they didn’t support it. Health care stocks turned lower.

Smaller companies did better than the rest of the market and more stocks rose than fell, a sign investors are still confident in the U.S. economy.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 2.49 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,345.96. The Dow lost 4.72 points to 20,656.58. The Nasdaq composite slid 3.95 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,817.69. The Russell 2000 index, which tracks smaller companies, gained 7.83 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,353.43.

Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has skidded over the last few days, rose to 2.42 percent from 2.40 percent. That modest increase gave banks and other financial companies a lift.

The S&P 500 banking index had plunged 5 percent over the previous four days as bond yields and interest rates decreased. Banks turned higher on Thursday. SunTrust Banks added 67 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $54.85 and Huntington Bancshares rose 24 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $13.02.

Alphabet lost $10.15, or 1.2 percent, to $839.65. Technology companies lagged the rest of the market. Alphabet is the second-most valuable company on the S&P 500 after Apple.

Companies that run Medicaid programs, like Centene and Molina Healthcare, stumbled in afternoon trading and health insurance companies like UnitedHealth and Humana took small losses. Drug companies also fell. Hospital operators traded higher, as did medical device makers.

Cox, of Harris Financial, said stocks probably won’t fall much further if the bill ultimately fails because investors will focus on other items on Trump’s agenda.

PVH, which owns Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, jumped after its fourth-quarter profit and sales topped analyst estimates. It said sales for the Hilfiger brand grew in the latest quarter and its business is doing well in spite of high discounts in the U.S. The stock gained $7.70, or 8.5 percent, to $98.55.

U.S. crude oil lost 34 cents to $47.70 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 8 cents to $50.56 a barrel in London. That pulled energy companies lower.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline fell 1 cent to $1.59 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $1.49 a gallon. Natural gas rose 4 cents to $3.05 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $2.50 to $1,247.20 an ounce, which ended a small five-day streak of gains. Silver rose 2 cents to $17.59 an ounce. Copper picked up 1 cent to $2.64 a pound.

The dollar inched up to 111.07 yen from 110.92 yen. The euro slid to $1.0786 from $1.0798.

Germany’s DAX jumped 1.1 percent and the CAC 40 in France rose 0.8 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 index added 0.2 percent. In Japan the Nikkei 225 gained 0.2 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat and the South Korean Kospi gained 0.2 percent.

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