UnitedHealth, Johnson & Johnson Lead Dow Higher Tuesday

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October 17, 2017: Markets opened mixed Tuesday after a day of record highs (again) on Monday. The DJIA topped 23,000 for the first time ever as the nation’s homebuilder posted a solid gain in confidence following the Gulf storms. The healthcare sector was the big winner today, following on UnitedHealth Group’s quarterly results, while financials underperformed. WTI crude oil for November delivery settled at $51.88 a barrel, up a penny on the day. December gold dropped 1.3% on the day to settle at $1,286.20. Equities were headed for a narrowly mixed close shortly before the bell as the DJIA traded up 0.16% for the day, the S&P 500 traded up 0.06%, and the Nasdaq Composite traded down 0.02%.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes traded very near the break-even line just minutes before the closing bell. The closing tally could show either a small gain or a small loss for either of the indexes.

The DJIA stock posting the largest daily percentage gain ahead of the close Tuesday was UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) which traded up 6.23% at $205.24. The stock’s 52-week range is $136.22 to $206.62 and the high was posted today. Volume was nearly three times the daily average of around 2.7 million shares. The company reported earnings beats this morning and raised its full year profit estimates.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) traded up 3.51% at $140.90. The stock’s 52-week range is $109.32 to $141.12, a new 52-week set this afternoon. Volume was about 70% above the daily average of around 5.2 million. Another healthcare giant that also reported earnings beats this morning.

Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) traded up 1.13% at $51.95. The stock’s 52-week range is $49.01 to $60.53. Volume was about 15% below the daily average of around 8.6 million shares. The company had no specific news Tuesday.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) traded up 0.82% at $48.48. The stock’s 52-week range is $42.80 to $54.83. Volume was around half the daily average of around 14.4 million shares. The company’s 4.7 million FiOS subscribers have lost access to Univision as Verizon and the Spanish-language network fail to solve their contract dispute.

Of the Dow stocks, 12 are on track to close higher Tuesday and 18 are set to close lower.