(Updated for closing prices)
NEW YORK (
) -- Shares of the U.S. health insurers got off to a quick start on Wednesday when news of the demise of the public option in the congressional healthcare overhaul and comments made by
CEO buoyed the sector.
However, those quick gains were muted by the end of Wednesday, as still new concerns about revenue spending requirements surfaced.
Thursday was a different story, though, as the gains in the sector from early in the trading day remained at the market close, with some HMOs, like
, achieving 52-week high levels. Health Net closed up 4.5% on Thursday to $23.76, 3 cents below the 52-week high it reached earlier in the trading session.
The biggest gainers overall on Thursday were
, which was up 6.4%;
, up 6.1%;
WellCare Health Plans
, up 5.5%; and Aetna, up 5.2%.
Coventry Health Care
( CVH) was up 4%; while
was up 2.8%.
, the laggard of the group, was up 1.8% at mid-day.
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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