Strong Retail Sales Propel Dow Upward

Stocks gave up most of their earlier gains on Thursday as losses in the health-care sector continued for a third straight day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 45.56 points to 26,495.10

The S&P 500 dipped 6.08 points to 2,894.37

The NASDAQ Composite fell 40.94 points to 7,955.14

The health-care sector is down more than 5% this week as investors worry over proposals pushed by Democratic lawmakers. UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann told analysts in a conference call earlier this week that propositions like "Medicare for All" would "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."

Shares of Pfizer and Centene led the decline in health care on Thursday, as they both fell nearly 3%. Biogen, Allergan and Abiomed also traded lower.

Health-care’s pull back dampened the positive sentiment sparked by stronger-than-expected retail sales data and corporate earnings reports that topped analyst estimates.

The corporate earnings season also continued on Thursday as companies like Honeywell and BB&T reported better-than-expected profits. Shares of the two companies rose more than 1% each.

So far, more than 78% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported have topped analyst expectations

Retail sales in the U.S. rose by 1.6% last month, the strongest gain since September 2017. Economists expected a gain of 0.9%.

Prices for the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury were higher, thus lowering yields to 2.55% from Wednesday’s 2.59%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slipped three cents to $63.73 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices increased 80 cents to $1,277.60 U.S. an ounce.