Stocks - Dow Flat as Health Care Stocks Slump Amid Fears Over Reforms

Dow Ends Flat - The Dow ended the day flat Wednesday, with earnings providing little direction and health care stocks slumping on concerns that potential reforms may wreak havoc on the sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.01%, the S&P 500 lost 0.23%, while the Nasdaq Composite slipped 0.05%.

Health care stocks added to losses from a day earlier, led by a fall in UnitedHealth (NYSE:UNH) as analysts from Citi downgraded their price target on the stock and delivered a bearish assessment on the wider healthcare industry.

Citi lowered its price target for UnitedHealth to $247 from $288, citing concerns over possible government reforms including "regulatory uncertainties around Medicare for All and concerns around (point-of-sale) rebates."

UnitedHealth fell 1.9%, and the S&P 500 healthcare sector fell 2.9%.

Mixed earnings, meanwhile, did little to bolster sentiment on stocks.

IBM (NYSE:IBM) fell 4.2% after it beat on earnings but posted a larger-than-expected decline in revenue after the bell yesterday. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) fell nearly 1.3% as its guidance for the second-quarter fell short of expectations, offsetting better-than-expected first-quarter results.

But there were some bright spots in tech, as Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) said it expects incremental earnings per share of $2 in 2020 as product shipments ramp up following the end of its longstanding legal dispute with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). The new license between the two companies is six years, with a two-year option to extend, according to Qualcomm. Qualcomm shares jumped 12.25% on the day after soaring 23.2% on Tuesday after the company and Apple announced their settlement.

Energy stocks, meanwhile, were roughly unchanged as oil prices slipped modestly despite an unexpected draw in crude stockpiles.

In consumer staples, PepsiCo (NASDAQ:PEP) finished up 3.8% and hit a record high of $127.11 after its first-quarter earnings and revenue topped analysts' expectations.

On the trade front, media speculation that the U.S. and China could lock in a final trade meeting, before signing a trade deal, as soon as May or June, had a muted impact on trade-sensitive sectors like industrials and materials.

In other company news, Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) jumped 3.3% after the chipmaker said it would be exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, citing "no clear path to profitability and positive returns."

The weakness in the broader market came despite strong Chinese economic news overnight and better-than-expected U.S. trade data.

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), United Continental (NASDAQ:UAL) and Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE:BK), Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN) and DaVita HealthCare Partners (NYSE:DVA) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

Related Articles

U.S. pilot program allows online grocery shopping with food stamps

Norway stocks higher at close of trade; Oslo OBX up 0.22%

Russia stocks lower at close of trade; MOEX Russia down 0.29%