Health Bill Passes, Wall Street Flat Due to Energy Sector

Health Bill Passes, Wall Street Flat Due to Energy Sector

Wall Street ended flat yesterday as a steep fall for the energy sector countered more solid earnings reports, with major stock indexes closing little changed after the US House of Representatives passed a much promised healthcare overhaul.

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The House on Thursday afternoon narrowly voted to repeal major portions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with Trumpcare, the Republican's version of their healthcare plan, sending it to the Senate for consideration.The bill's passage comes after House Republicans pulled healthcare legislation earlier this year in an embarrassing setback, raising questions among investors about President Donald Trump's ability to enact his agenda. Interestingly, the market did not immediately react to news of the bill's passage.

The benchmark S&P 500 has gained 11.7 percent since Trump's election, fueled by his plans for tax cuts, infrastructure spending and deregulation. The market may not really be focused on healthcare as the big issue, and may instead focused on the forthcoming tax plan. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 6.43 points, or 0.03 percent, to 20,951.47, the S&P 500 gained 1.39 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,389.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.79 points, or 0.05 percent, to 6,075.34.

Oil prices tumbled about 5 percent on signs that OPEC and other producing countries would not take more drastic steps to reduce the world's stubbornly persistent glut of crude. The energy sector dropped 1.9 percent, easily the worst performing group. Exxon Mobil's 1.3-percent decline and Chevron's 1.8-percent drop weighed on the S&P.

Investors also were digesting the Federal Reserve's statement on Wednesday. The central bank left rates unchanged but downplayed weak first-quarter economic growth while emphasizing the strong labor market, in a sign it was still on track for two more rate rises this year.

Focus was turning to Friday's US employment report as the next gauge of the economy and labor market. Data on Thursday showed new applications for US jobless benefits fell sharply last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls hit a 17-year low.


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