Healthcare stocks led the S&P 500 index higher today ahead of Massachusetts Senate election results. Should Republican Scott Brown win the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat, the outlook for lawmakers at the federal level and ongoing efforts at healthcare reform may change dramatically.
Currently, if all Democrats vote along the party line, they enjoy a 60 vote majority in the Senate, enough to overcome Republican filibusters. If Brown wins, however, the Democrats may be one vote short, which may present serious problems for Obama’s healthcare plans.
Health related stocks rallied today on this possibility. Humana (NYSE:HUM) is up 6.33 percent, Coventry (NYSE:CVH) up 5.83 percent, Aetna (NYSE:AET) up 5.61 percent, and United Health (NYSE:UNH) is up 3.85 percent.
Citigroup (NYSE:C) reported earlier today a loss of $0.33 per share, in line with analysts’ expectations. A large part of the loss stemmed from the repayment of TARP. Citi is trading up 0.58 percent. Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) is up 0.63 percent and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is up 2.04 percent. Goldman and Morgan Stanley will report earnings Thursday and Wednesday, respectively.
The market is also being lifted by basic materials, led by US Steel (NYSE:X). A Deutsche Bank analyst upgraded the stock today and it is trading up 4.98 percent.