Healthcare Stocks Trade Mixed on Cigna's Massive $67 Billion Express Scripts Bid

Healthcare stocks responded in a mixed way Thursday, March 8, to another blockbuster deal in the space.

U.S. health insurance giant Cigna Corp. (CI) said it planned to pay $67 billion to buy out benefits management group Express Scripts Holding Co. (ESRX) . The news sent Express Scripts shares higher 8.58%, while Cigna stock slumped 11.46% at the market close. Both traded on significantly heavy volume throughout Thursday's session.

The rest of the healthcare and insurance sectors were divided by the close of trading on Thursday.

CVS Health Corp. (CVS) stock gained 1.27% to $68.37, while Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) stock fell 0.76% to $68.97.

Among large insurance providers, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) shares fell 0.84% to $224.628, Aetna Inc. (AET) stock slumped 1.43% to $176.09, Humana Inc. (HUM) stock fell 1.38% to $269.52 and Anthem Inc. (ANTM) shares were down 1.02% to $228.75.

AmerisourceBergen Corp. (ABC) shares gained 0.68% to $96.25 while Envision Healthcare Corp. (EVHC) stock was higher 0.07% to $42.79. WellCare Health Plans Inc. (WCG) shares fell 1.32% to $191.90 while Diplomat Pharmacy Inc. (DPLO) stock jumped 1.52% to $21.35.

The Healthcare Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV)  rose 0.64% to $85.25.

The Cigna and Express Scripts deal is the latest in a string of consolidation in the healthcare and drug distributor space.

Last December, CVS announced a deal to acquire Aetna for $69 billion. About two years ago, Walgreens said it planned to buy out Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) . Earlier this year, Walgreens was said to be in deal talks with AmerisourceBergen.

The sector has been under pressure recently in anticipation of the entry from non-industry players JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) , Inc. (AMZN) and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) , which have established a joint venture aimed at reducing health insurance costs.

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