Wall Street dips as healthcare stocks slide again

By Amy Caren Daniel

April 17 () - U.S. stocks gave up early gains to trade marginally lower on Wednesday, as healthcare stocks continued a decline from the previous session, countering a rally in chipmakers led by Qualcomm and robust economic data out of China.

The S&P healthcare index fell 1.7% as insurers and hospital operators dropped on ongoing concerns about potential changes to healthcare policy. The sector is on track to wipe out year-to-date gains.

Qualcomm Inc surged 15.1% after the company won a major victory in its legal dispute with Apple Inc that called for the iPhone to once again use Qualcomm modem chips.

The Philadelphia chip index jumped 2.65%, and the broader technology sector gained 0.65%.

"We've had a tailwind from Chinese economic data, and in general earnings reports have been mixed, but for the most part it was better-than-feared," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

"We've bounced up to a level where we are pretty fairly valued and we are going to need something significantly new like the U.S.-China trade deal for a higher estimate in 2019."

United Continental Holdings Inc rose 5% after reporting a better-than-expected jump in quarterly profit and fueled a 1.4% jump in the Dow Jones transport index .

The Nasdaq 100 touched a record intraday high, surpassing its highest level hit in early October.

At 10:10 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 48.06 points, or 0.18%, at 26,404.60. The S&P 500 was down 4.58 points, or 0.16%, at 2,902.48 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 10.60 points, or 0.13%, at 7,989.62.

International Business Machines Corp fell 4.1%, and weighed on the Dow, after reporting a bigger-than-expected drop in quarterly revenue.

Of the 54 S&P 500 companies that have posted so far, about 80% have beaten estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

Analysts now expect first-quarter S&P 500 profits to have dropped 1.8% year-on-year. Though a solid improvement over recent estimates, it would still mark the first earnings contraction since 2016.

Among other earnings, Morgan Stanley rose 1.4% after its quarterly profit beat expectations, wrapping up earnings for big U.S. banks.

PepsiCo Inc rose 2% after quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates.

Netflix Inc shares fell 1.5 percent in volatile trading. The video streaming service provider gave a weak forecast but beat quarterly estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.87-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.25-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 35 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and nine new lows.

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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