Insurers slump as healthcare bill fails, but tech stocks rise

Gains for tech and consumer stocks were enough to send the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Nasdaq composite to new highs.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

U.S. stocks were mixed Tuesday as health insurers declined after the failure of the latest Republican healthcare bill while a big jump in subscribers for Netflix sent technology and consumer-focused companies higher.

Stocks spent most of the day down after the healthcare push stalled and several financial firms, including Goldman Sachs, reported underwhelming second-quarter results. Energy and industrial companies also slipped.

Although stocks flirted with larger losses and most of the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange fell, the gains for tech and consumer stocks were enough to send the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and Nasdaq composite to new highs.


Wall Street did not have a big reaction to the Republican healthcare defeat, as it did when a related bill failed in March. After four months of struggles over healthcare, investors don’t expect as much from congressional Republicans and President Trump on other issues.

“Tax changes aren’t likely to take place any time soon and are likely to be smaller than they hoped,” said Kate Warne, an investment strategist for Edward Jones.

Read more: Collapse of Obamacare repeal campaign ups pressure on Republicans to work with Democrats »

The S&P 500 rose 1.47 points to 2,460.61, just above the record it set Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 54.99 points to 21,574.73. Goldman Sachs was responsible for almost all that loss. The Nasdaq composite climbed 29.87 points to 6,344.31 as tech companies such as Facebook and Alphabet rose. After a plunge in June, the Nasdaq has surged in the last two weeks.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks sank 3.99 points to 1,427.61. That index closed at an all-time high Monday.

Several major banks reported strong second-quarter results, but that wasn’t enough to get investors excited. Bank of America and Goldman Sachs both said their trading businesses struggled, as the market has been calm for months. Banks did very well in the first quarter, and Warne said investors may have been caught off guard that the second quarter doesn’t look as good for them.

“When they’re not benefiting as much as expected from higher interest rates, I think that makes investors more cautious about what results will look like going forward,” Warne said.

Goldman shares slid 2.6% to $223.31. Comerica fell 2% to $73.05. Bank of America slipped 0.5% to $23.90. Netflix jumped 13.5% to $183.60 after the company said that it added 5.2 million subscribers last quarter and that, for the first time, it has more subscribers outside the U.S. than in it. The second quarter is usually a slow period for Netflix, so investors were pleased to see the big gain.

Read more: Netflix sees stronger-than-expected subscriber growth »

Facebook climbed 2% to $162.86. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, ticked up 1.1% to $986.85.

Health insurers declined. Aetna fell 1.1% to $153.31. Anthem retreated 1.4% to $189.45. UnitedHealth, the largest company in the industry, inched up 0.3% after it reported strong second-quarter results and raised its annual outlook.

The dollar slipped again. It has steadily lost ground for most of this year, and the ICE U.S. dollar index is at its lowest level since August. The dollar slid to 111.98 yen from 112.66 yen. The euro rose to $1.1563 from $1.1480. The euro hasn’t been this strong against the dollar since early 2015.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slid to 2.26% from 2.31%. That also hurt bank stocks.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 38 cents to $46.40 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 42 cents to $48.84 a barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.58 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.51 a gallon. Natural gas rose 7 cents to $3.09 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $8.20 to $1,241.90 an ounce. Silver rose 17 cents to $16.27 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.73 a pound.

The DAX in Germany dropped 1.2% and France’s CAC 40 fell 1.1%. The British FTSE 100 index slipped 0.2%. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.6% as the yen gained against the dollar. The Kospi in South Korea was flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.2%.


4:50 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 8 a.m.