S&P 500 Futures Turn Higher After Rocky Session as Healthcare Pares Losses

US stocks turned higher after a shaky session on Wednesday, pressured by a volatile health sector after President-elect Donald Trump criticized pharmaceutical companies in his first news conference since the election.

In his first media address since July, Trump lashed out against the “disastrous” pharmaceutical industry, adding that companies were “getting away with murder” with regards to drug prices.

Health stocks listed on the S&P 500 fell 1%, with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies leading the declines.

The S&P 500 Index oscillated before ending near record highs at 2,275.32. That represents a gain of 6.42 points, or 0.3%. The benchmark gauge was down was much as 0.4% following Trump’s remarks.

Telecommunications services fell 0.6%, while shares of real estate companies finished 0.5% lower.

Energy stocks rose 1.2% on Tuesday as oil prices staged a large recovery. US crude futures advanced 3%, partially offsetting two days of losses.

Utilities stocks rose 1%. Shares of materials, industrials and information technology companies recorded gains of at least 0.5%.

After initial losses, financials and discretionary shares ended rose at least 0.2%.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose for a seventh consecutive session on Wednesday, and extended its record high in the process. The technology-heavy average rose 11.83 points, or 0.2%, to 5,563.65.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reversed course to finish firmly higher, adding 98.75 points, or 0.5%, to 19,954.28.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX was up more than 6% in intraday trade following Trump’s presser. It would eventually close down 2%. The so-called “fear index” remains well below the long-term average, and typically exhibits an inverse relationship with the US stock market.

There was a lot of indecisiveness in the market on Wednesday, with investors struggling to identify the incoming presidential administration’s priorities. The rally since early November has soured in the absence of more tangible evidence of what’s to come.

The S&P 500 has set mutiple records since election day. Its last high came on January 6.

S&P 500 Index

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Sam Bourgi is a financial market analyst for economiccalendar.com. He has more than six years of progressive experience in economic and financial analysis, research consulting and sectoral analysis. As a published author in government, peer-reviewed, online and industry sources, he has developed a fundamental approach to the financial markets with a broad focus on stock indices, commodities and the technology sector. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Windsor and Master’s degree from McMaster University.