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Healthcare and bank stocks pull indexes down

Stocks Rise After Federal Reserve Announcement Of Rate Hike
A Christmas tree stands outside the New York Stock Exchange.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Healthcare companies and banks drove U.S. stocks lower Thursday, pulling major indexes below their recent highs.

The slide, which erased gains from earlier in the day, came on news that some Republican senators’ support for the GOP’s proposed tax overhaul bill was faltering.

Small-company stocks, which would be among the biggest beneficiaries of the bill’s reduction of corporate income tax rates, declined more than the rest of the market.

“The market is focused almost completely on the corporate tax reduction,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. “And there are still concerns that some of the key Republican senators are wavering.”

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The losses outweighed gains by retailers, which got a boost from a government report showing that retail sales jumped in November.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10.84 points, or 0.4%, to 2,652.01. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 76.77 points, or 0.3%, to 24,508.66. The Nasdaq fell 19.27 points, or 0.3%, to 6,856.53. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 17.50 points, or 1.2%, to 1,506.95.

Still, the indexes are all on track to finish the week with a gain.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Thursday that he will vote against the proposed tax bill unless negotiators expand its child tax credit. The bill would increase the child tax credit to $2,000 from $1,000, but Rubio wants more. And a spokesman for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said Lee is undecided on the bill.

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House and Senate leaders agreed on the bill in principle Wednesday, but were still finalizing the legislation, which they plan to unveil Friday and then move it through the Senate next week.

The stock indexes moved up early Thursday after the Commerce Department said sales at retailers and restaurants jumped 0.8% last month. Sales in a category that mostly includes online shopping leaped 2.5%, and sales at electronics stores rose 2.1%. Furniture store sales increased 1.2%.

The report helped lift several retailers. Mattel climbed 4.2% to $16.24. Tiffany & Co. advanced 3.4% to $99.34.

Healthcare stocks accounted for much of the market’s losses. Medical care services company DaVita fell 3.2% to $69.03.

Shares in several banks and other financial companies also declined. Navient fell 2.5% to $12.62.

Pier 1 Imports slumped 29.5% to $4.12 after the home decor company cut its forecasts and said its business has struggled in December.

Traders welcomed news that Disney agreed to buy a large part of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox for about $52.4 billion in stock. Disney rose 2.8% to $110.57. Fox was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, climbing 6.5% to $34.88.

Disney buys much of 21st Century Fox in deal that will reshape Hollywood »

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Teva Pharmaceuticals was another big gainer. The Israeli drugmaker jumped 10.2% to $17.30 after it said it would lay off 14,000 workers, or more than a quarter of its staff. The move is part of a global restructuring meant to salvage its ailing business.

Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury stayed at 2.35%.

Oil prices rose, reversing an early slide. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 44 cents to $57.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 86 cents, or 1.4%, to $63.30 a barrel in London.

In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents, or 1.5%, to $1.67 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $1.91 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents, or 1.1%, to $2.68 per 1,000 cubic feet.

The dollar fell to 112.18 yen from 112.52 yen. The euro fell to $1.1792 from $1.1820.

Bitcoin futures declined on their fourth day of trading, dropping $255, or 1.5%, to $16,800 on the Cboe Futures Exchange. The futures enable investors to make bets on the future price of the virtual currency. The average price of an actual bitcoin was $16,496 in trading on private exchanges, according to CoinDesk. The price of the digital currency has soared this year; it began 2017 under $1,000.

Gold rose $8.50 to $1,257.10 an ounce. Silver rose 7 cents to $15.93 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $3.07 a pound.

Major stock indexes in Europe finished lower after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England opted to keep interest rates unchanged, as expected. Germany’s DAX fell 0.4%. France’s CAC 40 lost 0.8%. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 0.6%.

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Earlier in Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3%, South Korea’s Kospi gave up 0.5%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slipped 0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2%.


UPDATES:

2:40 p.m.: This article was updated with closing prices, context and analyst comment.

This article was originally published at 6:50 a.m.


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