Stocks were higher on Friday morning as Donald Trump faced his first major test as president: whipping up enough votes to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The S&P 500 was up 0.34%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.21%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.6%.
The Trump administration has finished negotiating with the conservative Freedom Caucus over the details of the American Health Care Act. Donald Trump reportedly has told lawmakers that if the health care bill doesn't pass on Friday, he will move on to tax reform and other issues, leaving Obamacare in place. On the campaign trail last year, Trump said he would repeal Obamacare on day one of his presidency.
Trump told reporters on Friday morning that the White House would "see what happens" on the health care vote. Trump also said he backs House Speaker Paul Ryan remaining in his position even if the health care bill fails.
A vote on the Obamacare repeal and replace bill was originally scheduled for Thursday evening, but was delayed by GOP leaders. The Trump administration and Ryan have implored lawmakers in closed-door meetings to support the bill. The passage of the bill is seen by Wall Street as a test as to whether a Trump administration can enact all it has promised, particularly tax cuts and regulatory reform. Patience with the slow progress of health care and financial reforms wore thin earlier in the week, sending stocks spiraling to their worst losses of the year.
"The health care debate isn't about health care," said James "Rev Shark" Deporre in his column for RealMoney, our premium site for investors. "It is about leadership and deal-making. Trump was elected in large part because of his promises that he would work with Congress to enact some significant legislation. Now the market is looking for some confirmation of his abilities. The way he handles this complex issue is a test of his abilities, and that is what the market is trying to evaluate."
The package expected to be voted on Friday will include the legislation approved by various House committees and an amendment containing sweeteners designed to bring at least some of the Freedom Caucus's members on board. Among the amendment's provisions will be one that eliminates the underlying health care bill's 10 essential health benefit requirements, including the requirement that health plans not deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Durable goods orders in February came in better than anticipated. The Census Bureau reported on Friday that orders for long-lasting goods in the U.S. rose 1.7% last month, weakening from 2.3% growth in January but above estimates of 1.5% growth. Core goods orders fell by 0.1%, weaker than an anticipated increase of 0.5%.
The private sector grew at its slowest pace in six months, according to the Markit Flash U.S. PMI. The measure weakened to a reading of 53.4 from 54.2. Analysts anticipated a reading of 54.8.
The Trump administration officially approved the Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, as expected. Former President Barack Obama had blocked the controversial pipeline. TransCanada (TRP) - Get Report climbed more than 1% after receiving a presidential permit to construct the Keystone pipeline. The permit from the U.S. Department of State led TransCanada to discontinue its bankruptcy claim. The company said it appreciates the new administration "reviewing and approving this important initiative."
Micron Technology (MU) - Get Report led tech gains on Friday as renewed demand for chips drove earnings growth. Adjusted profit of 90 cents a share came in 7 cents higher than estimates. Sales of $4.65 billion exceeded estimates of $4.64 billion.
The tech sector was the best performer on markets Friday, giving a big boost to the Nasdaq. Semiconductor stocks, like Micron, were rallying with Intel (INTC) - Get Report , Texas Instruments (TXN) - Get Report , Nvidia (NVDA) - Get Report and Himax Technologies (HIMX) - Get Report each sporting gains. The S&P Semiconductor SPDR ETF (XSD) - Get Report climbed 1.8%.
Finish Line (FINL) slumped 16% after a disappointing quarter. The shoe retailer swung to a loss of 23 cents a share from profit of 9 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Adjusted earnings of 50 cents a share came in 20 cents below estimates. Revenue of $557.5 million exceeded estimates of $548.1 million. Same-store sales fell 4.5%.
GameStop (GME) - Get Report tumbled 11% after reporting a double-digit drop in profit and announcing plans to shutter at least 150 of its total 7,500 stores. The video game retailer reported a 16% decline in fourth-quarter profit and 14% drop in quarterly sales. Net income of $2.04 a share missed estimates of $2.29.
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SeaWorld (SEAS) - Get Report added 6% on Friday after announcing that Blackstone Group BX was selling its 21% equity stake for $23 a share, a 33% premium to the Thursday close. A subsidiary of Zhonghong Zhuoye Group, a Chinese company, has agreed to purchase the stake. The sales is expected to close in the second quarter.
Under Armour (UA) - Get Report was upgraded to buy at Jefferies. The company was also added to the Franchise Picks list. The brand has strengthened over time and industry demand is robust, Jefferies said.