Circumstances surrounding a plane crash in eastern Ukraine caused jitters on Wall Street Thursday. The markets were just treading water until news broke that a Malaysia Airline jet had crashed while flying over territory where pro-Russian separatists have been battling against the army. Reports suggest that it may have been shot down, though by which side is still unclear.
At the end of the day, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) was 161 points lower, the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) had fallen 62 points, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) was down by 23 points.
Investors flocked instead to safe-haven bets like gold and Treasuries, but there were some stock winners on this jam-packed earnings day.
The country's largest health insurer, United Health (UNH), released its quarterly report. Revenue rose 7 percent but profits fell, mainly because of higher taxes. Nevertheless the results topped expectations and shares gained 1.5 percent. Rival Humana (HUM) also rose sharply, up 3 percent.
Toolmaker Snap-on (SNA) beat on earnings, and it was one of the top winners in the S&P 500, gaining 4 percent.
Earnings rose 90 percent at Morgan Stanley (MS), which beat on profit and revenue. The stock initially gained but then lost half a percent as the broader market sold off.
M&T Bank (MTB) reported a drop in profit as mortgage-banking revenue declined and the stock dropped slightly.
Earnings more than doubled at the world's largest private-equity firm, Blackstone Group (BX) and its shares gained half a percent.
Chipmaker Sandisk (SNDK) beat on earnings but the stock dropped 13.5 percent as the outlook for both margins and sales in the current quarter disappointed.But overall this year, the stock has been on tear. Year-to-date, it is up 31 percent
Barbie maker Mattel (MAT), the toy industry's largest player, dropped more than 6.5 percent on a steep drop in sales and profits in the last quarter. Its traditional toys aren't as popular nowadays, but its American Girl line continues to shine.
Yum Brands (YUM), which owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC also sold off after reporting earnings. KFC's business in China rebounded, but sales continued to drop in the U.S. The stock fell more than 6.5 percent.
And the largest auto dealership chain in the U.S., AutoNation (AN) reported an 8 percent increase in revenue in the last quarter and growth in all of its businesses, but that failed to meet expectations and shares fell 8 percent.
Microsoft (MSFT) shares gained 1 percent on news it is slashing 18,000 jobs. That is about double what was expected since Satya Nadella took over as CEO.The stock has been a winner this year though: It is up 18 percent.
And finally, Dresser-Rand (DRC), which makes engineering equipment for the energy sector, soared 12.5 percent on reports Siemens is considering an offer.
-Produced by Karina Huber.
What to Watch Friday:
The University of Michigan releases its initial survey of consumer sentiment for July at 9:55 a.m.
The Conference Board releases leading indicators for June at 10 a.m.
These major companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results
15 Easy Ways to Cut Your Health Care Costs Without Cutting Quality
After Market: Jet Crash in Ukraine Spooks Investors
From general practitioners to dentists to acupuncturists, many health care providers offer discounts when you send them a word-of-mouth referral. It may only be $50 or so, but money is money.
It doesn't hurt to ask for a discount: The worst your doctor can say is "no." Many practitioners offer lower rates when you pay with cash or check instead of a card. (They also offer payment plan options if you can't afford to pay all at once.)
Bring up as many concerns with your primary-care physician during an office visit as possible, advises Adam Beck, assistant professor of health insurance at The American College, which trains people in the finance industry. "Your doctor will be able to test and treat you for a variety of potential ailments or conditions while paying one co-pay, as opposed to returning each time you think something is awry."
Always review your medical bills the same way you would a restaurant bill. If you feel like a billing mistake was made -- or that you've been overcharged -- speak up. "The Medical Billing Advocates of America estimates that roughly eight out of 10 medical bills contain errors," says Allen Erenbaum of the Consumer Health Alliance, a national association for non-insurance discount health care programs. "All prescription drugs and medical procedures have codes, and sometimes there could be a costly mistake." If you need help, you can find patient and billing advocates through MedicalBillMediation.com and Medical Billing Advocates of America.
"Establish a relationship with a primary-care physician and have all the routine screening done that is recommended for someone of your age and gender," advises John Garner, author of the "Health Insurance Answer Book." "Catching problems early is not only less expensive, but it could save your life." (Of course, you are exercising daily and eating nutritiously.)
Make a habit of requesting the generic alternatives for prescriptions. Your doctors may write their prescriptions this way automatically, but it never hurts to remind them. Additionally, ask if there's a different form of the same medication. "For example, if you are prescribed tablets, ask if you may take capsules or lozenges. Sometimes the difference in cost with your insurance can mean a difference in half the tablet price. I've saved lots of customers this way just by calling their doctor for them personally," says pharmacist Steve Levin, owner of Woodland Hills Pharmacy in California. The wisdom of buying cheaper generics also applies to over-the-counter medications. For example, Target sells a 100-tablet bottle of Tylenol for $6.99, while its store brand of acetaminophen costs $5.29 for 250 tablets.
The emergency room may seem like your best bet when you don't have time to wait for an appointment, but it should only be used in life-threatening situations. The ER is much more expensive than a visit to your family doctor, sometimes by hundreds of dollars -- and that's before you even get to your actual treatment. If you can't wait to see a physician, or you're out of town, your best option is an urgent care center. They are often a little more expensive than visiting a general practitioner, but definitely less costly than the ER.
Medical bills can add up quickly, especially when a doctor starts doing test after test. Garner says to always ask questions such as, "Is this test or procedure necessary?" and don't settle for vague answers.
Get the insurance coverage that works best for your family's needs. If you're a relatively healthy person who goes to the doctor once a year and the dentist every six months, but usually nothing more, skip the ultra-expensive premium with a low deductible. Contrarily, if you find yourself visiting the doctor more often, an insurance plan with a low deductible could save you much more even though your premium is higher. To better understand your choices, consult a licensed health insurance agent.
"Non-insurance discount health plans can save you money on ancillary services your insurance typically does not cover, like dental care, vision, prescriptions, alternative medicine and more," explains Erenbaum. According to the Consumer Health Alliance, you can save 20 percent to 60 percent on services with a non-insurance discount plan. Check out America's Premier Benefits, New Benefits, Careington and DentalPlans.
"If you require a medication that isn't available as a generic yet, joining a discount club could reduce what you pay for prescription drugs dramatically," notes Beck. These discount cards are often free. Also ask if your pharmacy has any prescription reward programs. These provide the incentive for pharmacy loyalty, saving you money and ensuring repeat business for the pharmacy.
Your annual vision exam may require an updated prescription, but buying glasses or contacts from your doctor may mean paying up to 50 percent more. Instead, go online to find less expensive -- and sometimes more fashionable -- options.
Receiving medical care from a provider out-of-network can cost you much more than using someone who's in-network. Before booking an appointment, call to confirm the office's network status with your insurance company. Ensuring you only see in-network providers can become difficult in a hospital, but make sure the hospital staff knows you have a strong preference for in-network physicians.
"Be aware and take advantage of treatment at free clinics when available," advises Beck. "Particularly in urban areas, there are opportunities to treat some conditions for free, namely those that pose a risk to public health. For example, if you are concerned about a sexually transmitted infection, a visit to the city health center may involve a depressing waiting room, but the screening and treatments will be free."