US Markets Mixed on Bargain Hunting and Pending Healthcare Showdown
The S&P and the Nasdaq reversed course to climb higher in afternoon trading, as investors sought bargains a day after the major indexes posted their biggest one-day loss since before the election, and a looming healthcare showdown weighed on trader's minds.
By Paolo Palazzi-Xirinachs
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 00:00
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.09 percent at 20,648.71 points, while the S&P 500 had gained 0.13 percent to 2,347.16. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.35 percent to 5,814.04. Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the technology index's .SPLRCT 0.67 percent gain leading the advancers.
The gains in US equities provided a measure of calm to the market, though havens remained in demand a day before a Republican health-care bill is set for a vote in Congress. Lawmakers have signaled any setback could delay enactment of tax cuts and spending increases, the prospects for which have underpinned the rally in risk assets since Donald Trump’s election. The depth of selling Tuesday drew some investors back in on speculation the drop went too far given data showing strength in the global economy.
US stocks in the previous session had their worst day since before Trump's election as investors worried that the president's struggle to overhaul healthcare was a sign he would also face trouble pushing through promised corporate tax cuts that have been behind the market's record-breaking rally since November.
Trump and Republican lawmakers appeared to be losing the support they need for controversial healthcare legislation scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives on Thursday. Losing or delaying the vote would bruise investors' confidence in Trump's legislative ability and his ability to keep his big promises to business.
In commodities news, Brent took center stage in the oil market after dipping below $50 for the first time this year. It pared losses to trade 0.4 percent lower at $50.73 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate oil fell 0.3 percent to $48.12, dropping for a third day as data showed U.S. crude supplies climbed. Copper fell 0.7 percent to $5,738 per metric ton, the lowest in more than a week, and iron ore sank 3.9 percent, the largest drop in more than three months.
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