Market Wrap: Stocks Climb, Led by Energy, Health Care

Financial Markets Wall Street Hewlett Packard EnterpriseNEW YORK — U.S. stocks added to their recent run with gains across all sectors on Monday, led by increases in the beaten-down energy group and the acquisition-driven health care industry.

The gains on the first trading day of the month followed the best monthly performance of the major indexes in four years in October. The Nasdaq 100 closed Monday at its highest level in more than 15 years.

Data on Monday showed U.S. manufacturing activity in October sank to a 2½-year low, but a rise in new orders offered encouragement. Elsewhere, factory activity in Germany beat economist estimates, and manufacturing in Central and Eastern Europe kept up a robust pace in October.

“The fact that we have got sturdy numbers from outside the U.S. accompanied by a relatively decent … [U.S. manufacturing] report, I think that cocktail was supportive of risk assets getting a boost,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 165.22 points, or 0.9 percent, to 17,828.76, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 24.69 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,104.05 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 73.40 points, or 1.5 percent, to 5,127.15.

The S&P, which is up nearly 13 percent since hitting its lowest level for the year in August, broke through the 2,100 barrier, bringing it nearer to its all-time closing high of 2,130.82 in May.

“The upward trend that was put in place last week has continued to gain steam,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “I don’t necessarily think there’s a specific catalyst for it today. Risk appetite has clearly increased.”

As the U.S. earnings seasons winds down, investors are looking to economic data, including this Friday’s employment report, for clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates when it meets in December.

Movers and Shakers

The S&P energy index rose 2.4 percent. Oil majors Exxon and Chevron were two of the three biggest drivers of positive performance for the Dow after both companies posted better-than-expected results on Friday. Chevron (CVX) gained 4.5 percent to $94.96 and Exxon (XOM) finished up 3.1 percent at $85.28.

The S&P health care index increased 2 percent. Pfizer rose 3.7 percent, and AbbVie (ABBV) jumped 6.4 percent, providing the biggest boost to the sector.

Dyax (DYAX) soared 28.4 percent to $35.35 after British drugmaker Shire said it would buy the company for about $5.9 billion. The Nasdaq biotechnology index closed up 3.8 percent.

U.S.-listed shares of Valeant (VRX) rose 7.1 percent at $100.47 after short-seller Citron Research said it wouldn’t be releasing new allegations against the Canadian drugmaker.

The S&P financial sector gained 1.6 percent, led by increases from the big banks. Visa (V) fell 3 percent to $75.22 after offering to buy its former subsidiary Visa Europe for as much as $23.3 billion. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500.

Hewlett-Packard started trading after its split. HP (HPQ) jumped 13 percent to $13.83, while Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) slipped 1.6 percent to $14.49.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,525 to 569, for a 4.44-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 2,217 issues rose and 628 fell for a 3.53-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 76 new highs and 44 new lows.

Market Wrap: Stocks Slip on Mixed Earnings, Jobs Report Looms

Financial Markets Wall Street
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks edged lower Thursday as investors digested mixed tech and health care earnings a day ahead of Friday’s employment report.

Energy shares dragged more than other sectors as crude prices fell. Qualcomm (QCOM) weighed the most on the S&P 500, falling 15.3 percent to $51.07 after the chipmaker forecast first-quarter profit below expectations. Biotech Celgene (CELG) fell 5.3 percent to $120.46 after its quarterly revenue missed targets.

Overall declines were limited by a rise in Facebook shares following the social media company’s strong quarterly results, and a 0.4 percent gain in the financial sector. Facebook (FB) shares jumped 4.6 percent to $108.76.

Investors were looking to Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report as they gauge whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December.

“This is a big piece of data as to what the Fed is looking for,” said Scott Colyer, chief executive officer of Advisors Asset Management in Monument, Colorado. “I think everybody wants them to move or not move. The month-to-month stuff is killing everybody.”

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 4.15 points, or 0.02 percent, to 17,863.43, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 2.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,099.93 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 14.74 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,127.74.

The declines paused a rally that took shape in October, the best monthly performance for major stock indexes in four years.

“We have had in the past month … a very strong market, a very sharp rebound, and I think that’s also probably causing some profit taking more than you might expect from the news that’s out there,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors finished lower. The S&P energy sector fell 1 percent, with Chevron (CVX) off 2.3 percent to $94.55 and Exxon Mobil (XOM) down 1.4 percent at $84.81.

The utilities group dropped 0.8 percent and materials declined 0.5 percent.

The S&P health care sector fell 0.4 percent, weighed down by Celgene’s results.

Drug Price Probe

A U.S. Senate panel began a probe Wednesday into drug price increases, seeking documents from four drugmakers including Valeant Pharmaceuticals. U.S.-listed Valeant (VRX) shares tumbled 14.4 percent to $78.77 on Thursday.

The probe hit the entire biotech group and the broader market as well, said Larry Peruzzi, a senior equity trader at Cabrera Capital Markets in Boston.

HomeAway surged 25.3 percent to $40.15 after Expedia said it would buy the vacation rental site for $3.9 billion. Expedia (EXPE) rose 2.4 percent to $137.40.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,561 to 1,488, for a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,497 issues fell and 1,283 advanced for a 1.17-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 22 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 94 new highs and 71 new lows.

About 7.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Employees’ Health Costs Up 134% in a Decade

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Female doctor in hospital hallway
The average amount that employees contribute to their health care has increased by more 134 percent over the past 10 years — and is projected to increase again next year.

That’s according to Aon Hewitt, which analyzed data for more than 600 large U.S. employers representing 11.7 million participants, more than 1,200 health plans and nearly $59 billion in 2015 health care spending.

The firm found that in 2015 employees contributed a total of $4,698 for their share of the premium cost ($2,490) and their out-of-pocket costs such as co-payments and deductibles ($2,208). In 2005, their premium and out-of-pocket costs totaled $2,001.

From our Solutions Center: How to quickly shop insurance

Next year, the average employee’s share of the costs is projected to continue to increase to a total of $5,068 ($2,635 toward the premium and $2,433 in out-of-pocket costs).

The employer share of health care costs also has been increasing, and that rise also is projected to continue next year.

The increase in costs was actually relatively modest in 2015. The 3.2 percent rise was the lowest increase since Aon began tracking the data in 1996.

Mike Morrow, senior vice president of Aon Health, attributes the slower growth in costs to a couple of factors:

“The sluggish growth in the economy has deterred many individuals from using medical services, and there’s also been modest price inflation — both factors have been primary drivers for the low rates of premium increases over the past few years.”

However, he adds that premium rates are expected to climb in the future partly due to prescription drug costs continuing to grow at a double-digit pace and to the economy picking up steam.

According to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, employer-based plans are the most common type of health insurance. They comprise 55.4 percent of plans — more than twice as much as any other type of insurance.

To learn more about health insurance costs, check out:

“Obamacare Open Enrollment Is Coming: 5 Things You Need to Know”
“Ask Stacy: Can Obamacare Help Me Retire Early?”
“5 Health Care Myths Debunked”
“10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Health Insurance”

Do you obtain your health insurance through your employer? If so, have your costs increased? Let us know in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Market Wrap: Stocks Slip; Health Care Sinks, Intel Climbs

Square Inc. Begins Trading On The NYSE Following IPONEW YORK — Wall Street ended a little lower Thursday as falling health care stocks offset gains in Intel and other technology names while investors eyed an expected rate hike in December.

A profit warning by UnitedHealth (UNH) led to a 5.7 percent drop in its stock, making the health insurer the biggest drag on the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500. It also sent the shares of competitors Anthem (ANTM) and Aetna (AET) down more than 6 percent each.

The S&P health care sector was the worst performer among the 10 major S&P sectors with a 1.63 percent decline.

We think the Fed will raise rates in December, but it will be more important how they set expectations about subsequent rate increases.

Adding to the pain in health care, Pfizer (PFE) fell 3.1 percent after reports that its talks to buy Allergan and redomicile in Ireland were in final stages. Allergan (AGN) lost 2.8 percent.

Intel (INTC) jumped 3.4 percent after boosting its annual dividend. The chipmaker and Apple (AAPL), up 1.3 percent, added more upward pressure to the S&P 500 than any other stocks.

Mobile payments company Square (SQ) soared 45 percent in its highly anticipated market debut, while dating website operator Match Group (MTCH) popped 23 percent on their first trading day.

Data released Thursday appeared to support the Federal Reserve’s view of a strengthening labor market ahead of its meeting next month. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week.

Minutes from the Fed’s October meeting, released Wednesday, hardened expectations of a December interest rate hike and hinted at a cautious approach after that.

Investors are increasingly pondering the pace of more rate increases in 2016, said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York.

“We think the Fed will raise rates in December, but it will be more important how they set expectations about subsequent rate increases,” Carter said. “If the Fed sets an expectation that subsequent rate increases will be modest and measured, we think the equity markets can rally for some time.”

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) closed 0.02 percent weaker at 17,732.75 points while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) lost 0.1 percent to 2,081.24. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) edged 0.03 percent lower to 5,073.64.

Seven of the 10 S&P sectors ended higher, led by utilities, up 1 percent.

Winners and Losers

After the bell, Nike (NKE) jumped 3.5 percent after it increased its dividend and announced a two-for-one share split.

Gap (GPS) posted quarterly results that sent its shares down 4 percent.

Tax software company Intuit (INTU) posted fiscal first-quarter results that pleased investors, pushing its stock 10 percent higher.

During Thursday’s trading session, Salesforce (CRM) jumped 4.3 percent after its quarterly adjusted profit beat estimates and the online sales software maker raised its full-year revenue forecast.

NYSE advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,585 to 1,478. On Nasdaq, 1,553 issues fell and 1,250 advanced. The S&P 500 showed 24 new 52-week highs and six lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and 109 lows.

About 6.5 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 7.3 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data. (Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar

Earnings Season
These selected companies are scheduled to report quarterly financial results.

Market Wrap: Stocks Gain with Health Care, Upbeat Auto Sales

Financial Markets Wall Street
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks started December stronger Tuesday as health and consumer shares bounced back while auto sales suggested upbeat growth in November.

The S&P health care index jumped 1.7 percent, while the consumer discretionary index was up 1 percent, both retracing Monday’s losses.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH) shares rose 3.1 percent to $116.26 after its chief executive defended the company’s possible withdrawal from the Obamacare health insurance exchanges. Shares of Anthem (ANTM) were up 4.2 percent at $135.82.

Strong domestic auto sales in November kept the industry on pace for a record year in 2015. Shares of Ford (F) were up 1.6 percent at $14.56, though General Motors (GM) shares were up 0.2 percent at $36.26.

We get a feeling the consumer is still there though it’s not shopping brick-and-mortar as much. Cyber Monday results were certainly more positive than Black Friday results.

The S&P retail index rose 1 percent. Amazon.com (AMZN) was up 2.1 percent at $679.06.

“We get a feeling the consumer is still there though it’s not shopping brick-and-mortar as much. Cyber Monday results were certainly more positive than Black Friday results. Christmas hasn’t been canceled, and that’s been reflected in stocks today,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) rose 168.43 points, or 1 percent, to 17,888.35, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (^GSPC) gained 22.22 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,102.63 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 47.64 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,156.31.

Other data showed a sturdy increase in construction spending in October. Offsetting the upbeat economic news, though, was a report showingmanufacturing contracted in November for the first time in three years.

Anticipation

Investors are watching data closely ahead of next week’s Federal Reserve meeting, where the central bank could decide to raise interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

The main economic report this week will be Friday’s November employment report, which is expected to show that the economy added 200,000 jobs during the month. Analysts say a strong report virtually guarantees a rate rise this month.

Investors are also awaiting Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting, when the bank is widely expected to ramp up its trillion-euro bond-buying program.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 2,183 to 899, for a 2.43-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,629 issues rose and 1,185 fell for a 1.37-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 114 new highs and 65 new lows.

About 6.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, slightly above the 6.8 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters (TRI) data.