Market Wrap: Health Care Stocks Keep Gains in Check

Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP
By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks closed little changed Friday, pressured by renewed uncertainty in health care stocks and by Disney shares, even as October payrolls data pointed to a resilient economy in the face of sluggish global growth.

The S&P 500 and Dow industrials closed at record highs and rose for a third consecutive week.

Health insurers fell sharply after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to a key part of the Obamacare health law that, if successful, would limit the availability of federal health insurance subsidies for millions of Americans.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-Any kind of change in how the health care law is interpreted is going to affect health care stocks, probably insurers first.%"Any kind of change in how the health care law is interpreted is going to affect health care stocks, probably insurers first," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"Whenever the rules have potential to change everybody gets nervous."

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) fell 2.7 percent to $93.61, ranking as the largest weight on the Dow industrials. Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare (THC) fell 6.5 percent to $47.85 while managed care facilities operator Humana (HUM) was down 6.6 percent to $130.58.

Health care stocks had been pressured from the opening bell by Salix Pharmaceuticals (SLXP), which closed down 34 percent at $91.47 in its biggest ever daily drop.

Salix on Thursday slashed its full-year forecast given swollen drug inventories, an issue that dissuaded Allergan from acquiring the drugmaker, people familiar with the matter said.

On the flip side, employers added 214,000 jobs last month, below the 231,000 expected in a Reuters poll of economists, while gains in the previous two months were revised higher. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent, the lowest since July 2008, even as more people entered the labor force.

"With data like this the Federal Reserve doesn't feel compelled to come in and help, or squash a too-hot economy," said Fort Pitt Capital's Forrest. "No more Fed [asset] buying but also no rate hikes quite yet."

Walt Disney Co. (DIS) fell 2.2 percent to $90 a day after earnings met expectations. The stock had closed Thursday at $92, a record high.

First Solar sank 10.8 percent to $50.29 as the biggest decliner on the S&P 500 a day after the company said it would not spin off its solar power plants into a separate, publicly traded entity as some of its competitors have done.

Energy shares on the S&P 500 were the day's strongest performers, rising 1 percent. The sector is down 1.4 percent so far this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 19.46 points, or 0.11 percent, to 17,573.93, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) gained 0.71 points, or 0.03 percent, to 2,031.92 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 5.94 points, or 0.13 percent, to 4,632.53.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.1 percent and the S&P added 0.7 percent in their third straight weekly gain. The Nasdaq closed the week up 0.04 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,869 to 1,188, for a 1.57-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,370 issues fell and 1,321 advanced for a 1.04-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 52 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 101 new highs and 58 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges totaled about 6.5 billion shares, compared to the 7.24 billion average in the last five sessions.

What to Watch Monday:

These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
  • 3D Systems (DDD)
  • Caesars Entertainment (CZR)
  • Cheetah Mobile (CMCM)
  • Dean Foods (DF)
  • Sotheby's (BID)
  • Wayfair (W)
  • Whitewave Foods (WWAV)
15 PHOTOS
16 Black Friday Myths Busted
See Gallery
Market Wrap: Health Care Stocks Keep Gains in Check
There's no stopping the holiday creep, and this year we expect the majority of Black Friday sales to commence on Thanksgiving Day, and some of the best deals might even sell out before Friday. Since there are only 26 days (three full weekends) between Black Friday and Christmas, we expect some Black Friday sales as early as two weeks before the namesake day.
While doorbusters are advertised in advance to bring shoppers in-store, over the years the competition between retailers has become so fierce that these hot deals have increasingly also made their way online. Data from previous years has shown that up to 70 percent of in-store Black Friday deals were also available online for the same price -- or less! Because Amazon (AMZN) and other sites will price-match even the hottest in-store offers from brick-and-mortar retailers like Best Buy (BBY), Target (TGT) and Walmart (WMT) many feel pressure to release deals online as well.
Watch the evening news and you'll see plenty of Black Friday mobs, fights, and brawls. Fortunately, most holiday shoppers will never witness such events. Sure, there will always be reports of overly-aggressive shoppers on Black Friday, but a majority of consumers express feeling a sense of camaraderie while waiting in line predawn. Plus, no store wants instances of violence associated with their name in the news, so they will do everything in their power to keep things orderly (including beefing up their staff).
Black Friday is the best time of the year to go on a shopping spree, but not every sale you encounter will merit its best-of-the-year branding. Some general categories see better prices later (like winter apparel, which will drop significantly in price come January), while there will always be average prices nestled in among those doorbuster deals. To save during Black Friday, know what you want, be flexible if you can, and don't bite if the price doesn't seem right.
Everyone loves a secret sale, so on Thanksgiving Day retailers will release additional Black Friday deals that weren't in their earlier circulars. Moreover, some retailers will respond to competitor pricing and make last-minute price cuts to compete.
Once upon a time, Black Friday ad leaks were actual scans of ads that were questionably posted online for shoppers to analyze in advance of the big day. Now, stores wield their ads strategically, releasing sneak peeks for rewards members or previewing the ads for select media, all to control the flow of information to their greatest benefit.
Black Friday is a blockbuster event for low-end goods from stores and manufacturers you may not be familiar with. However, in recent years several retailers of high-end clothing and other items have broken the age-old trend of skipping Black Friday promotions. But rather than offer promotions from their main brands, luxury retailers have let their outlets do the dirty work. Stores like Last Call by Neiman MarcusBarney's Warehouse, and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th are a few outlets you can expect to participate in Black Friday sales.
Stores tend to tighten their return policies during the holidays, making it hard for consumers to return items. Some retailers will go so far as only offering store credit on returns, even if you have a receipt. A handful of stores are also tracking serial returners and banning them. And if you don't remember to ask for a gift receipt, your recipients might be doubly unhappy: they'll likely receive a store credit for only a portion of the purchase price.
Black Friday may get all the attention, but last year Cyber Monday managed to trump Black Friday in terms volume of Editors' Choice deals, which is our designation for the best sales of the year with price lows never before seen. And it was precisely those types of deals that flooded our homepage last Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is no longer a holiday that shoppers can afford to skip.
While a number of online retailers advertise week-long Cyber Monday sales, the best deals appear on Sunday and Monday only, with some holding over to Tuesday. Just as we saw with Black Friday, many of the best Cyber Monday deals have crept into the preceding day, in this case Sunday. Last year, for instance, we posted four times more Editors' Choice deals on Sunday and Cyber Monday combined than we did for the remainder of Cyber Week.
Unfortunately, submitting an online order -- even after entering payment information -- doesn't guarantee that the items you purchased will be yours. Retailers occasionally display inaccurate inventory and will sometimes let consumers buy an item that is out of stock; this is a particular problem on Black Friday, given the speed of transactions. Moreover, a store may decide to cancel all orders for items at mistakenly low prices. Best Buy notoriously did this in 2011 when it mistakenly offered a $100 iTunes gift card for $60; the store then canceled all orders and asked customers to instead purchase the deal for the intended price of $80.
Unfortunately, the only guaranteed way to safeguard your personal information this holiday season is by paying with cash. However, we understand not everyone can reasonably do this. So the best way to avoid data hacks this holiday season is by taking multiple precautionary measures when shopping online. Pay with credit rather than debit, update your passwords and watch billing statements to ensure your card hasn't been used by thieves elsewhere. Should a security breach occur, immediately contact your bank and report your losses.
Bargain bin devices have a reputation for being bottom-of-the-barrel items that nobody wants, be it movies, laptops or apparel. However, this past year budget products have been showing more flair than usual. That's because some of these items, such as entry-level 42-inch HDTVs and ultra-cheap laptops, simply cannot get any cheaper. So to make them more appealing, retailers have given them more panache. For laptops, that means you'll find budget machines with better-than-average specs. In the case of TVs, it means finding budget 42-inch sets from name-brand manufacturers, instead of just off-brand models. Ultimately, it's a win for shoppers because you get more value for your dollar.
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
Read Full Story

Markets

NASDAQ 6,461.32 6.68 0.10%
S&P 500 2,506.65 6.42 0.26%
DJIA 22,370.80 39.45 0.18%
NIKKEI 225 20,310.46 11.08 0.05%
HANG SENG 28,127.80 76.39 0.27%
DAX 12,567.73 5.94 0.05%
USD (per EUR) 1.20 0.00 0.18%
USD (per CHF) 0.96 0.00 -0.28%
JPY (per USD) 111.26 -0.31 -0.28%
GBP (per USD) 1.36 0.00 0.28%

Can't get enough business news?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from retailer news to the latest IPOs delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.