* UnitedHealth biggest drag on the Dow
* Banks marginally up after stress test results
* Indexes down: Dow 0.22 pct, S&P 0.09 pct, Nasdaq 0.25 pct
(Updates to open)
By Sruthi Shankar
June 23 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were mostly lower on Friday,
dragged lower by healthcare and consumer staples shares.
Health stocks had rallied on Thursday after Senate
Republicans unveiled legislation that would replace Obamacare.
However, the bill faced skepticism from the Democrats, who
attacked the legislation as a callous giveaway to the rich that
would leave millions without coverage.
UnitedHealth was down about 1 percent and was the
biggest drag on the Dow. Other major health stocks, including
Regeneron and Amgen, were down between 1
percent and 3 percent.
At 9:48 a.m. ET (1348 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 46.92 points, or 0.22 percent, at 21,350.37, the
S&P 500 was down 2.2 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,432.3.
The Nasdaq Composite index was down 15.74 points,
or 0.25 percent, at 6,220.94.
Investors also awaited economic data and speeches by Federal
Reserve policymakers for clues on interest rate hikes amid
concerns over oil prices.
Crude oil prices bounced off this week’s 10-month lows, but
were still set for their worst first-half performance in almost
Sliding oil prices have added to concerns on the inflation
outlook, which along with a flattening yield curve, could pose a
challenge to the Fed in deciding whether the economy was ready
for another interest rate hike this year.
“There is a concern that economy maybe struggling slightly,
with oil prices hitting lows,” said Andre Bakhos, managing
director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“If it’s a supply problem, it’s wonderful for the market,”
he said. “If it is demand that is starting to wane, then it’s
going to create more questions than give us answers.”
At current levels, the S&P 500 energy index, down 15
percent so far this year, is on track to post its worst weekly
decline in about 18 months.
Four of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the S&P
500 consumer discretionary sector’s 0.37 percent fall
leading the decliners.
Shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan, Wells
Fargo and Goldman Sachs were up marginally
following the Fed’s stress test results on Thursday.
The results showed that 34 largest U.S. banks have all
cleared the first stage, implying they would be able to maintain
enough capital in an extreme recession.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Cleveland Fed chief
Loretta Mester and Fed governor Jerome Powell are all scheduled
to make appearances later in the day.
Economic data due includes new U.S. single family home sales
for May at 10:00 a.m. ET. The reading is expected to show that
single family home sales likely grew 5.4 percent.
Caterpillar was off 0.74 percent, following a
Deutsche Bank downgrade to “hold”.
U.S.-listed shares of Blackberry were down 10.6
percent at $9.88 after the company’s quarterly revenue missed
Bed Bath & Beyond was down 10.4 percent after the
home furnishing retailer reported a bigger-than-expected fall in
same-store sales in the first quarter.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,307
to 1,195. On the Nasdaq, 1,317 issues fell.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj