UnitedHealth, Coca-Cola Weigh on DJIA Thursday

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March 23, 2017: Markets opened mixed again Thursday but the major indexes traded higher until the early afternoon as traders anticipate a vote on the Republican healthcare bill. If it passes, healthcare stocks (insurers, primarily) are expected to rise; if it fails it calls into question President Trump’s ability to get things like tax reform done as well. WTI crude oil for May delivery settled at $47.70 a barrel, down 0.7% on the day. April gold dropped 0.2%% on the day to settle at $1,247.20. Equities were headed for a lower close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded down 0.05% for the day, the S&P 500 traded down 0.13%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 0.13%.

Stocks traded very near the break-even line just minutes before the closing bell. The closing tally could finish with either a small gain or a small loss for any or all of the indexes.

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Thursday was UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) which traded down 1.10% at $165.19. The stock’s 52-week range is $125.26 to $172.14. Volume was about 25% below the daily average of around 3.5 million shares. The company had no specific news Thursday.

The Coca-Cola Co. (NYSE: KO) traded down 0.68% at $42.09. The stock’s 52-week range is $39.88 to $47.13. Volume was about 40% below the daily average of around  27 million. The beverage maker announced several top management changes that will become effective when new CEO James Quincey takes office on May 1.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) traded down 0.64% at $69.80. The stock’s 52-week range is $62.72 to $75.19. Volume was about half the daily average of around 9.3 million shares. The company announced a service that allows DVD owners to create a digital collection.

Intel Corp. (NASDAQ: INTC) traded down 0.51% at $35.19. The stock’s 52-week range is $29.50 to $38.45. Volume was about 35% below the daily average of around 23 million shares. Two Israeli residents have been charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading on Mobileye stock. Intel recently announced a $15 billion acquisition of Mobileye.

Of the Dow 30 stocks, 10 are on track to close higher Thursday and 20 are set to close lower.