S&P 500 weighed down by healthcare and metals stocks

 @ibtimes
on February 03 2010 4:16 PM

The stock market ended lower on Wednesday, snapping a two day rally while the dollar reversed its two day slide. 

Healthcare stocks fell after Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) earnings came up short of expectations and President Obama

renewed commitment to his healthcare bill.  Metals stocks dropped as the dollar rallied against the euro on European sovereign debt worries.    

Technology stocks, after being hammered in recent trading sessions, showed signs of recovery as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) all gained more than 0.60 percent today.

The S&P 500 lost 6.04 points, or 0.55 percent, to close at 1,097.28.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.26 percent to end at 10,270.55.  The tech heavy NASDAQ Composite was nearly flat, rising 0.04 percent to end at 2,190.91.

Pfizer, the second largest pharmaceutical company in the world, reported earnings of $0.49 per share while Wall Street was expecting $0.50.  The firm also issued 2010 guidance for earnings and revenues that were below analyst expectations. Shares of Pfizer fell 2.31 percent today.

Pharmaceuticals generally declined today, with Bristol Myers (NYSE:BMY) dropping 1.13 percent, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) dropping 1.44 percent, and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) dropping 0.56 percent.

Healthcare stocks, especially health insurance companies, were also hurt by Obama's call at the Senate Democratic caucus today to finish the job on healthcare. 

Humana (NYSE:HUM) closed down 2.62 percent, UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) lost 2.14 percent, and WellPoint (NYSE:WLP) declined by 1.51 percent.

The dollar, which has generally been inversely correlated with the U.S. stock market in recent times, snapped a two day decline against the euro.  It gained as much as 135 pips against euro.  The EUR/USD is trading at 1.3898.

The European Commission today decided against the option of an IMF bailout for Greece and endorsed the country's plan of cutting spending and raising taxes.    It will closely monitor Greece's progress, however, and will require the country to submit quarterly reports. 

Yields of Portugal bonds are up today on concerns that the country will have trouble financing its budget deficit.  The Portuguese government today sold only 300 million euros worth of debt, although it had originally planned to sell 500 million euros.   

As the dollar rallied, aluminum, copper, and platinum prices all fell.  Metals stocks also suffered; Southern Copper (NYSE:PCU) fell 4.83 percent, Titanium Metals (NYSE:TIE) fell 3.28 percent, and U.S. Steel(NYSE:X) lost 2.56 percent.

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