Mid-Day Report: US Stocks Mixed as Health Care Sector Clouded by Political Rhetoric While US Retail Sales Jump Most in 18 Mths

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US stocks were mixed after health care stocks extended their declines while the beat on US retail sales was somewhat undermined by the Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index lagging the Street's views. The euro slid on the back of weaker eurozone data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 77.95 points intraday, or 0.29%, with the S&P 500 Index up 0.04% while Nasdaq was down 0.18%, as health care stocks dropped, with the sector approaching its lowest level this year.

Pfizer ( PFE ) fell 2.9% and Merck ( MRK ) shed 1.7%, the biggest decliners in the DJIA index.

"The recent health care selloff may be attributed to the political noise surrounding 2020 elections, the Medicare-for-All discussions, and drug pricing rather than a change in near-term fundamentals or global economic concerns," RBC Capital Markets analyst Brandon Henry said in a note Thursday, the day on which US Attorney General William Barr released the redacted version of the Muller report to the public.

US retail sales advanced by 1.6% in March, the biggest jump since September 2017 that also helped the figures beat the average market estimate.

Andrew Hunter, senior US economist at Capital Economics, was cited by CNBC as saying in a research note that the retail sales failed to "change our view that the fading of the fiscal boost and the lagged impact of the Fed's monetary tightening will push GDP [gross domestic product] growth below its 2% potential pace over the coming quarters."

The Philadelphia Fed Manufacturing Index slumped to 8.5 in April, from 13.7 in the previous month, approaching its no-change level of zero, or no expansion. In March, industrial production data reported by the Federal Reserve show a 0.1%, surprising analysts who were expecting a gain.

The US 10-year bond yield slipped by 3 basis points to 2.56%.

The euro fell after euro zone economic growth slowed in April for a second straight month as manufacturing reported a further contraction and service sector growth eased, indicating the region "remains in its worst growth spell since 2014," IHS Markit said in a report Thursday.

A solid service sector performance in Germany helped sustain the expansion, offsetting a sharp manufacturing downturn, IHS said. France, meanwhile, stagnated and the rest of the region saw the worst growth since late-2013.

In corporate earnings reports, United Rentals ( URI ) shares jumped 7.5% after first-quarter earnings and revenue topped the Street's views, and sales surging 22% from a year ago.

Crude oil was down $0.09 to $63.67 per barrel even as the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that US crude stockpiles slumped by 1.4 million barrels over a week to April 12, declining for the first time in four weeks.

Natural gas was down $0.003 to $2.51 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $0.30 to $1,277.10 an ounce, while silver was up $0.02 to $14.96 an ounce. Copper was down $0.04 to $2.93 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.24% to $13.25 with the United States Natural Gas Fund down 0.19% to $22.05. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.61% to 21.50 while SPDR Gold Shares was flat at $120.28. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.04% to $14.05.

Here's where the markets stood at mid-day:


NYSE Composite Index was down 14.50 points (-0.11%) to 12,892.61

Dow Jones Industrial Index was up 77.95 points (+0.29%) to 26,527.49

S&P 500 was up 1.20 points (+0.04%) to 2,901.22

Nasdaq Composite Index was down 13.88 points (-0.18%) to 791.71


FTSE 100 was down 8.64 points (-0.12%) to 7,462.68

DAX was up 69.32 points (+0.57%) to 12,222.39

CAC 40 was up 17.29 points (+0.31%) to 5,580.38

Nikkei 225 was down 187.85 points (-0.84%) to 22,090.12

Hang Seng Index was down 161.42 points (-0.54%) to 29, 963.26

Shanghai China Composite Index was down 12.92 points (-0.40%) to 3,250.20


NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 39.90 points (-0.37%) to 10,887.18

NYSE Financial Sector Index was up 2.18 points (+0.03%) to 8,019.31

NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was down 89.55 points (-0.60%) to 14,942.48


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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2016 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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