Merck, UnitedHealth Sink DJIA Wednesday

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August 24, 2016: Markets opened lower Wednesday and only the Nasdaq Composite made even a brief visit to positive territory during the day’s trading session. Healthcare and materials stocks led the losers and only the financial sector showed the tiniest bit of a positive move on the day. The news on home sales and mortgages was not uplifting and crude oil inventories rose last week, putting more pressure on prices. WTI crude oil for October delivery settled at $46.77 a barrel, down 2.8% for the day. December gold closed down 1.2% on the day to settle at $1,329.70. Equities were headed for a lower close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded lower by 0.22% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.35%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 0.57%.

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage loss ahead of the close Wednesday was UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) which traded down 1.69% at $139.59. The stock’s 52-week range is $107.51 to $144.48. Volume was about 50% below the daily average of around 3 million shares. The company had no specific news.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) traded down 1.39% at $62.69. The stock’s 52-week range is $47.97 to $64.00. Trading volume was about half the daily average of around 9.9 million. The company had no specific news Wednesday.

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) traded down 0.93% at $83.23. The stock’s 52-week range is $56.36 to $84.73. Volume was about 65% below the daily average of around 4.5 million shares. The heavy equipment maker had no specific news.

International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) traded down 0.86% at $158.88. The stock’s 52-week range is $116.90 to $164.95. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 3.4 million shares. The company had no specific news Wednesday.

Of the 30 Dow index stocks 7 are on track to close higher Wednesday and 23 are set to close lower.