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Stocks end lower as health-care companies decline

Published 24/08/2016

It was another below-average day of trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange
It was another below-average day of trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange

Stocks closed lower on Wednesday, led by sharp declines in health-care companies as outrage over the steep price hikes for Mylan's EpiPens escalates.

Trading remains quiet overall with many investors still on holiday. It was another below-average day of trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 65.82 points, or 0.4%, to 18,481.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 11.46 points, or 0.5%, to 2,175.44 and the Nasdaq composite lost 42.38 points, or 0.8%, to 5,217.69.

Major indexes were down slightly for most of the day, and the losses deepened as a late-day sell-off in drugmakers dragged the broader market lower. Mylan dropped 2.47 dollars, or 5.5%, to 43.15 dollars after falling nearly 5% the day before.

Outrage over Mylan's price increases for its EpiPen product continues to grow.

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued a statement Wednesday calling Mylan's price increases "outrageous" and called for the company to reduce its prices for EpiPens immediately. She is the latest in a bipartisan group of politicians who have raised concerns about Mylan's pricing.

EpiPens are medical devices designed to deliver adrenaline to a patient suffering from a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Allergy sufferers often have to carry more than one because they always need to be close by in case of an emergency.

Mylan, which bought the rights to the product in 2007, has raised the price from roughly 100 dollars (£75) for two pens to roughly 600 dollars.

Other biotechnology and drugmaker stocks also fell as investors anticipated that pressure over drug pricing practices could spread to other drugmakers. Vertex Pharmaceuticals fell 4.28 dollars, or 4.2%, to 96.71 dollars and Allergan fell 9.94 dollars, or 3.9%, to 243.77 dollars.

Metals and mining stocks also took hefty losses following disappointing results from the European mining giant Glencore. The company reported a loss and continues to sell off billions in assets to pay down its massive debt load.

Freeport-McMoRan slumped 90 cents, or 7.5%, to 11.08 dollars and Newmont Mining lost 3.30 dollars, or 7.5%, to 39.85 dollars.

Stocks remain stuck in a narrow range, as they have over the last two weeks. Many traders are on holiday and with no economic data and very few company earnings being released, investors are hesitant to make big moves.

Benchmark crude oil fell 1.33 dollars to 46.77 dollars a barrel while Brent crude, which is used to price oil internationally, fell 91 cents to 49.05 dollars a barrel. The drop in crude prices did not have a negative effect on energy stocks, which fell less than the rest of the market.

The yield on the benchmark US 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.56% from 1.55% the day before. The dollar rose to 100.49 yen from 100.22 yen, while the euro fell to 1.1261 dollars from 1.1305 dollars.

Precious and industrial metals futures closed lower. Gold lost 16.40 dollars to 1,329.70 dollars an ounce, silver fell 38 cents to 18.69 dollars an ounce and copper gave up four cents to close at 2.09 dollars a pound.


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