Markets closed slightly higher on Friday after healthcare stocks surged after Senator McCain decided not to support the repealing of the Affordable Care Act. Meanwhile, shares of Apple tumbled after iPhone 8’s release was met with a less than impressive response. This weighed heavily on the Dow, which ended in the red. Further, tensions between North Korea and the United States escalated after Kim Jong-un retaliated against President Trump's comments at the United Nations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed at 22,349.59, losing 0.1%. The S&P 500 Index (INX) increased 0.1% to close at 2,502.22. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC) closed at 6,422.69, increasing 0.1%. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,750 to 1,048. On the Nasdaq, advancers outnumbered advancers by 1,644 to1,130. The CBOE VIX increased 5.6% to close at 10.21.
McCain Refuses to Back Graham-Cassidy Legislation
Senator John McCain announced on Friday that he would not sign a proposal put forward by the members of the GOP to repeal Obamacare, citing uncertainty over the proposal’s likely success and lack of proper analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. This crushed Republicans’ hopes of pushing through the Graham –Cassidy legislation which also implies repeal of the Obamacare plan.
Such a statement from McCain sent healthcare stocks higher. The SPDR Health Care Select Sector ETF, which was down 0.5% in the afternoon, pared losses to finish just 0.1% lower. Shares of Aetna (AET - Free Report) and Cigna Corp. both gained 0.2%. This boosted the overall markets.
However, uncertainty about the success of the Graham-Cassidy legislation sent the shares of UnitedHealth Group (UNH - Free Report) lower by over 1.6%. This weighed heavily on the Dow.
Apple Suffers Worst Weekly Loss in a Year
Apple (AAPL - Free Report) suffered its worst weekly loss in a year’s time after it dipped about 1% after speculations over lack of demand of its recently launched smartphone iPhone 8 weighed on the broader markets. Speculations regarding low demand for iPhone 8 arose after the response to its launch was less than exuberant. The company possesses a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
This weighed heavily on the Dow and the blue-chip index shed almost 10 points to end in negative territory. Also adding to woes of the Dow was a decline in the shares of UnitedHealth Group. Meanwhile, Russell 2000 index breached record after it closed at 1,450.78, gaining almost 7 points or 0.5%. This also marked the small-cap index’s first record close since Jul 25.
Geopolitical Tensions with North Korea Escalate
In the latest of a series of threats, North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong Ho announced that the country was planning to test a hydrogen bomb in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. This test would mark North Korea’s first outside its borders. Coincidentally, this comes right after North Korea’s Kim Jong-un retaliated against Trump’s comments at the United Nation General Assembly.
Earlier, Trump had issued fresh sanctions against North Korea in response to the country’s missile launching spree. He also promised to blacklist individuals and organizations engaging in business with North Korea in an announcement on Thursday. Market watchers chose to ignore such developments as analysts feel that investors have become immune to tensions with North Korea.
For the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 gained 0.4% and 0.1% respectively. However, the Nasdaq posted a weekly loss of 0.3%. President Donald Trump made his debut speech at the United Nations General Assembly and urged member states to combat ‘rogue’ nations. Meanwhile, Fed announced the much anticipated unwinding of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet at the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting, deciding to keep the benchmark interest rates unchanged. However, it indicated a rate hike was likely in December.
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