Major U.S. stock indexes edged mostly lower, pulled down by a broad decline in health care companies and more in Thursday’s Stock Market Update.
Insurers UnitedHealth Group and Anthem led the health sector decline, which outweighed gains in industrial stocks and banks. The market had been higher earlier in the day.
Fastenal led gains in industrial stocks after the company delivered better-than-expected quarterly results. Prudential Financial and Unum Group were among the gainers in the financial sector.
The modest slide gave back some of the ground the market won a day earlier, after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed that the majority of officials want to keep interest rates unchanged in 2019. Investors want the central bank to take a more laid-back approach to avoid triggering a market slump.
Corporate earnings are the next key catalyst for investors. Major banks, including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, will report their first-quarter results on Friday. Delta led a rally in airline stocks Wednesday after reporting solids results.
“For the better part here of five trading days we’ve been up and down just a little bit, and not really making any progress,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “A lot of that is you’re really waiting for earnings season.”
Investors are also keeping a close eye on international developments, including the European Union’s deadline extension for Britain’s departure. Britain now has until October 31 to develop a plan for its exit from the bloc.
STOCK MARKET UPDATE
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index edged up less than 1 point to 2,888. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 14 points, or 0.1%, to 26,143. The Nasdaq fell 16 points, or 0.2%, to 7,947.
More stocks rose than fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose to 2.50%.
Major European indexes closed mostly higher.
NOT FEELING WELL: Several health insurers weighed on the market. UnitedHealth Group fell 4.3%, Humana dropped 2.7%, Anthem lost 3.8% and Cigna gave up 2.9%.
POWER OUTAGE: Tesla slumped 2.9% following news reports that the electric maker would hold off on a key battery plant expansion in the U.S. The stalled expansion follows Tesla’s report earlier in April of a first-quarter slowdown in production and demand.
SCRATCHY LINENS: Bed Bath & Beyond, which has been struggling recently and is being targeted by a number of activist investors, slumped 8.6% in heavy trading after the company reported a drop in a key sales measure that was worse than analysts were expecting.
NAILED IT: Fastenal climbed 4.7% after the maker of fasteners, nails and other hardware pushed past first-quarter forecasts.
The company cited strong demand from construction and industrial customers that pushed sales 10.4% higher. It also increased prices for some of its products to combat higher costs from tariffs.
IPO SPOTLIGHT: Two technology companies hit the market running. PagerDuty soared 61% in its first day of trading as a public company, and Tufin Software surged 37.2%. The Israel-based company provides network security software. Investors will be paying close attention later Thursday when ride-hailing giant Uber is expected to file documents ahead of its own highly anticipated initial public offering.
© The Associated Press. All rights reserved.