S&P Slips as Health-care Losses Dwarf Chinese Economic News

Stocks struggled on Wednesday as sharp losses in the health-care sector offset strong quarterly earnings results.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average deducted 3.12 points to 26,449.54

The S&P 500 dumped 6.61 points to 2,900.45

The NASDAQ Composite swooned 4.14 points to 7,996.08

Health-care fell 2.9% as a sector, eclipsing a 2% drop from the previous session.

The sector’s sharp losses came after UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann warned that proposals pushed by Democratic lawmakers, such as "Medicare for All," would "surely jeopardize the relationship people have with their doctors, destabilize the nation’s health system and limit the ability of clinicians to practice medicine at their best."

Wichmann’s comment sent UnitedHealth shares down 4% on Tuesday; they fell another 1.9% on Wednesday. Other health-care names like Alexion Pharmaceuticals dwindled 8.1%, and DaVita fell 7.7%.

IBM reported better-than-expected earnings, but its stock fell 5.5% as its revenue fell for a third straight quarter. Netflix also fell 1.6% as its guidance for second-quarter earnings disappointed investors.

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley shares rose 2.6% after posting earnings and revenue that topped expectations. The banking giant’s results were boosted by sales in its wealth management and fixed income trading divisions.

PepsiCo also reported stronger-than-forecast earnings as sales in its Frito-Lay business grew by 5.5%. The stock rose 3.8%. Rail transportation giant CSX, meanwhile, saw its stock rise 4% on the back of its quarterly results.

Qualcomm, meanwhile, rallied 12.3% — adding to a sharp rise in the previous session — as investors continued to cheer the chipmaker settling a lawsuit with tech giant Apple.

Qualcomm’s rally lifted the broader chipmaker space.

Overall, 84.6% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported calendar first-quarter earnings have topped analyst expectations.

The Chinese economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter of 2019, topping an estimate of 6.3%. Industrial production also surged 8.5% in March, surging past a 5.9% forecast.

The strong Chinese economic numbers assuaged fears that the global economy was slowing down. The data also pushed Citi to raise its 2019 GDP estimate to 6.6%.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury were unchanged, keeping yields at Tuesday’s 2.59%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions

Oil prices slipped 30 cents to $63.75 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices docked 70 cents to $1,276.50 U.S. an ounce.