UnitedHealth Group Leads the Dow Higher


Most stocks have moved in trading today after the Department of Commerce reported a 3% rise in factory orders in February. As of 3:25 p.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.47%, while the S&P 500 has gained 0.4%. Interestingly, gains weren't spread evenly among stocks today, and there were some wild moves from some of the largest companies on the market.

UnitedHealth Group is up 4.8% today, leading the Dow higher. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services pulled a 180 today, announcing an increase in Medicare Advantage reimbursements of 3.3%. The initial proposal was for a 2.2% cut, which made insurers lobby for higher rates, even threatening to drop coverage. The lobbying worked, and UnitedHealth is one of many medical insurers that have made significantly gains today.

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Home Depot is second on the Dow, gaining 1.6% so far today. The company sold $2 billion of bonds to help fund a $17 billion share buyback program which the company authorized in February. The bonds due 2023 were sold at just 85 basis points over similar treasuries, which is a great price for a company adding leverage and sending money back to shareholders.

Hewlett-Packard is the big loser on the Dow today, plummeting 5.5%. Goldman Sachs downgraded the company to "sell," citing excessive optimism priced into the stock right now. PC sales slowed rapidly toward the end of 2012, but recent data showing a rise in PC sales has given the market hope for the PC market and driven recent gains at HP. The stock is still a risky bet for investors, and I'd wait to see a solid turnaround in sales and profits before buying in, because even an analyst downgrade can sink the stock in the short term.

The article UnitedHealth Group Leads the Dow Higher originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Goldman Sachs, Home Depot, and UnitedHealth Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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