Belfast Telegraph

Insurers slump as health care bill fails

US stocks were divided as health insurers declined after the failure of the latest Republican health care bill.

Stocks spent most of the day lower after the health care push stalled and several financial firms, including Goldman Sachs, reported underwhelming second-quarter results. Energy and industrial companies also slipped.

While stocks flirted with larger losses and most of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange fell, the gains for tech and consumer stocks were enough to send the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite to new highs.

Wall Street did not have a big reaction to the Republican health care defeat, as it did when a related bill failed in March. After four months of struggles over health care, investors don't expect as much from Congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump on other issues.

The S&P 500 rose 1.47 points, or 0.1%, to 2,460.61, just above the record it set on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 54.99 points, or 0.3%, to 21,574.73.

Goldman Sachs was responsible for almost all of that loss. The Nasdaq composite climbed 29.87 points, or 0.5%, to 6,344.31 as tech companies like Facebook and Alphabet, the parent of Google, rose. After a plunge in June, the Nasdaq has surged over the last two weeks.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks sank 3.99 points, or 0.3%, to 1,427.61. That index closed at an all-time high Monday.

Several major banks reported strong second-quarter results, but that wasn't enough to get investors excited. Bank of America and Goldman Sachs both said their trading businesses struggled, as the market has been calm for months.

Goldman lost 5.95 dollars, or 2.6%, to 223.31 dollars and Comerica fell 1.47 dollars, or 2%, to 73.05 dollars. Bank of America declined 12 cents to 23.90 dollars.

Netflix jumped after the company said it added 5.2 million subscribers over the last three months, and for the first time, it has more subscribers outside the US than in it.

The second quarter is usually a slow period for Netflix, so investors were pleased to see the big gain. Netflix gained 21.90 dollars, or 13.5%, to 183.60 dollars. Among other consumer companies, Amazon added 14.34 dollars, or 1.4%, to 1,024.38 dollars.

Health insurers declined. Aetna fell 1.69 dollars, or 1.1%, to 153.31 dollars and Anthem retreated 2.64 dollars, or 1.4%, to 189.45 dollars. UnitedHealth, the largest company in the industry, inched higher after it reported strong second-quarter results and raised its annual outlook. It gained 59 cents to 186.85 dollars.

The dollar slipped again. It has steadily lost ground for most of this year and the ICE US dollar index is now at its lowest level since August. The dollar slid to 111.98 yen from 112.66 yen. The euro rose to 1.1563 dollars from 1.1480 dollars. The euro hasn't been this strong compared to the dollar since early 2015.

The DAX in Germany dropped 1.2% and France's CAC 40 fell 1.1%. The British FTSE 100 index slipped 0.2%. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.6% as the yen gained against the dollar. The Kospi in South Korea was flat. Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.2%.


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