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Health care stocks fall in early trade on reform proposal

Jonathan Niles, left, and Jay Woods work on

Jonathan Niles, left, and Jay Woods work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, March 1, 2017.  Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Stock indexes are mostly lower in early trading Tuesday, while health care companies, including drugmakers and drug distributors, are falling after Republicans in Congress introduced a bill intended to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Energy and materials companies are also declining.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,370 as of 10:19 a.m. Tuesday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average was little changed at 20,954. The Nasdaq composite edged up 3 points to 5,842. Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

Stocks have declined a bit after setting all-time highs as recently as last Wednesday. On Thursday the current bull market will turn eight years old. It has lasted longer than any other bull market since World War II except for the decadelong run that ended in early 2000.

HEALTH CARE HAMMERED: Health care companies fell after House Republicans introduced legislation to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The legislation would provide tax credits for people buying their own insurance and would scale back the government’s role in helping people afford coverage. It would likely leave more Americans uninsured and would also overhaul Medicaid. It’s not clear if the bill will gain enough support to pass the Senate, as several Republicans have already criticized the proposal.

Health insurance companies traded higher, however, as the proposed bill could reduce their costs and bolster their profits. Humana added $2.36, or 1.1 percent, to $215.10 and Cigna picked up 35 cents to $153.31.

DRUGMAKERS DOWN: Drug companies fell as President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he intends to bring down drug prices. He has said that before, but didn’t say how he planned to achieve it. The biggest losses went to generic drug companies. Perrigo lost $2.05, or 2.9 percent, to $69.54 and Mylan fell 91 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $43.13. Elsewhere Eli Lilly shed $1.59, or 1.9 percent, to $82.24 and biotechnology company Alexion lost $2.73, or 2 percent, to $130.60 while Mallinckrodt gave up $2.92, or 5.7 percent, to $48.34, for the largest loss among S&P 500 stocks.

Prescription drug distributors also fell. Express Scripts lost $1.42, or 2 percent, to $68.63.

AND HOW IS THE WEATHER: Oilfield services company Weatherford International soared after it named a new CEO. The company said its current CEO, Krishna Shivram, is leaving effective immediately as Weatherford hires Halliburton Chief Financial Officer Mark McCollum as its new president and CEO. McCollum will join the company in late April. Weatherford stock surged 92 cents, or 15.6 percent, to $6.81.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 37 cents to $53.57 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 39 cents to $56.40 a barrel in London.

BONDS: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.51 percent from 2.50 percent.

CURRENCIES: The dollar bounced back to 114.05 yen from 113.92 yen. The euro fell to $1.0565 from $1.0588.

OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX was up 0.1 percent and the FTSE 100 index in Britain rose 0.1 percent. The CAC 40 in France traded 0.3 percent lower. The Nikkei 225 stock index in Tokyo edged 0.2 percent lower. The Hang Seng gained 0.4 percent and South Kore’s Kospi gained 0.6 percent.


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