Updated from 1:31 p.m. ET, Thursday, June 22.
Stocks held higher on Thursday, June 22, as healthcare rallied after Senate Republicans' Obamacare replacement bill was made public.
The S&P 500 added 0.14%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.12%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.2%.
Healthcare stocks were higher following the release of the Senate Republicans' healthcare plan. The Senate bill suggests deep cuts to Medicaid and allows states the option to drop benefits coverage, including maternity care and mental health care. The Senate GOP wants to have a vote on the bill before the July 4 recess.
Details of the plan have been worked out in secret with no public hearings nor amendments from across the aisle. The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its notes on the bill next week. The CBO found that the House Republicans' bill would have left 24 million more people uninsured.
Healthcare stocks were the best performers on Thursday. Celgene Corp. (CELG) , Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) , Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN) and Biogen Inc. (BIIB) were all higher, while the Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) increased 1.6%.
The healthcare sector made large gains on Wednesday on high hopes for eased regulations in the industry. The Trump administration is reportedly drafting an executive order to ease regulatory burdens on drugmakers to drive down drug prices, according to The New York Times. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index ETF (IBB) increased 4% on Wednesday, and was up 2.2% on Thursday.
Crude recovered after a two-day selloff sent prices to their lowest level in 10 months. Crude oil prices moved into a bear market, after having fallen more than 20% from a late February high. Oil had been lower on worries over global oversupply and ballooning production.
On Thursday, West Texas Intermediate for August delivery rose 0.5% to $42.74 a barrel.
"Market attention remains focused on rising production from the U.S., Libya, and Nigeria with [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] and non-OPEC representatives meeting to review compliance seemingly at a loss for any fresh measures," Tim Evans, energy futures specialist at Citi, wrote in a note.
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits rose in the past week, though remained near multi-year lows. U.S. weekly jobless claims climbed by 3,000 to 241,000 in the past week. The less-volatile, four-week average increased by 1,500 to 244,750.
American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) increased 1% on news Qatar Airways would make a "significant investment" in the company. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, American said that Qatar had notified the company that it intended to purchase at least $808 million in common stock and was interested in a 10% stake. American said Qatar's investment was unsolicited.
U.S.-based shares of Novartis AG (NVS) rose 5% after the pharmaceuticals group said its Canakinumab drug helped reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues in patients who had previously suffered a heart attack. Novartis said it will now initiate discussions with regulators for treatment approval of Canakinumab, anti-inflammatory, following the completion of a trial that involved 10,000 patients and lasted more than six years.
"We continue to experience rapid adoption of the Oracle Cloud led by the 75% growth in our SaaS business in Q4," said Oracle CEO Safra Catz. " This cloud hyper-growth is expanding our operating margins, and we expect earnings per share growth to accelerate in fiscal 2018.
Oracle has moved from value status to growth status, Jim Cramer said over on our premium site for investors, Real Money. Get his insights with a free trial subscription.
Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS) increased 7% after reporting a narrower fourth-quarter loss than anticipated. The bookstore retailer reported a net loss of 19 cents a share, narrower than 42 cents a share a year earlier. Analysts anticipated a net loss of 23 cents. Revenue also came in above estimates.
Private-equity firm Sycamore Partners is in advanced talks to acquire Staples (SPLS) following an auction for the U.S. office supplies retailer, Reuters reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The deal could top $6 billion, according to Reuters. Sycamore is working to finalize a debt financing package for its bid for Staples after it prevailed over another private-equity firm, Cerberus Capital Management, three sources told Reuters. Staples rose 7%.
An agreement could be announced as early as next week, though negotiations between Sycamore and Staples are continuing and there is still a possibility that talks could fall apart, the sources added.
CarMax Inc. (KMX) increased 5.5% after the used vehicle retailer was upgraded to outperform from sector perform at RBC Capital. Its price target was also increased to $68 from $63. There is positive momentum despite declining used car values, analyst Scot Ciccarelli said.
Nordstrom Inc. (JWN) climbed 2.5% as the retailer reportedly moves forward with its search for a private equity buyer. The Seattle-based department store chain has formed a special committee of the board and has hired bankers, lawyers, and an outside public relations firm to help with the search, sources told CNBC. The Nordstrom family owns about 30% of the company.
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