Major US stock indices rose slightly, as the next drop in shares of the health sector weakened optimistic sentiment caused by stronger-than-expected retail sales data and solid corporate segment reporting.
The health sector fell 5.5% this week, as investors are concerned about proposals put forward by Democratic lawmakers. UnitedHealth CEO David Wichman told analysts during a conference call earlier in the week that initiatives such as Medicare for All would “endanger people's relationships with their doctors, destabilize the country's health care system and limit the ability of doctors to practice medicine at its best.” ".
According to a report by the Ministry of Commerce, retail sales in the US rose by 1.6% m / m in March, after falling by 0.2% in February, while economists expected to see a growth in the index by 0.9%. This was the biggest increase since September 2017, as households increased their purchases of cars and other goods. In annual terms, retail sales in March increased by 3.6%.
At the same time, the Ministry of Labor reported that the number of applications for unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 to 192,000 seasonally adjusted for the week ending April 13. This is the lowest level since September 1969. The data for the previous week was revised to show 1,000 calls more than previously reported. Economists predicted that in the last week the number of applications will increase to 205,000.
However, not all macroeconomic reports were favorable. IHS Markit data pointed to a slowdown in US business activity in April. This, combined with weak manufacturing performance, is expected to put pressure on overall growth at the beginning of the second quarter. According to the report, the value of the US business services index from IHS Markit in April was 52.9 compared with the March figure of 55.3, as the growth of new business softened against the background of a slight increase in export sales. At the same time, the business activity index in the US manufacturing sector was 52.4, unchanged from March. The composite PMI index in the United States was 52.8 in April compared with 54.6 in March.
Most of the components of DOW finished trading in positive territory (18 out of 30). The growth leader was UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (UNH; + 2.42%). Pfizer Inc. shares turned out to be an outsider. (PFE; -1.40%).
Most sectors of the S & P recorded an increase. The industrial goods sector grew the most (+ 0.9%). Only the health sector (-0.2%) and the base materials sector (-0.2%) decreased.
At the time of closing:
Dow 26,559.54 +110.00 +0.42%
S & P 500 2,905.03 +4.58 +0.16%
Nasdaq 100 7,998.06 +1.98 +0.02%
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