Dow, S&P 500 Book 3rd Straight Loss, Even As Oil And Health Care Rally

By Mark DeCambre Markets MarketWatch Pulse

The Dow industrials and the S&P 500 on Thursday logged their third straight finish in the red, despite crude-oil prices gaining after a recent sell-off, and as health-care stocks lured buyers. Still, sharp gains in the health-care sector wasn't enough for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index to halt a recent downtrend. The Dow closed little changed but enough for the index to end off 0.1% lower at 21,397, the S&P 500 index [: SPX] closed down, 1 point, or less than 0.1%, at 2,434, while the Nasdaq Composite Index logged a slight gain of less than 0.1% at 6,236. Health-care was the start of the day's action, with the sector, as measured by the exchange-traded Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF on pace to book its best weekly gain, up 9.3%, since the period ended Nov. 11. A popular biotechnology ETF, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF , also was on track for its best weekly gain since November. Those moves came as lawmakers released a draft of the GOP-led, health-care bill that is aimed at overhauling Obamacare. Among companies, health-care names Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. Inc. [: MRK] were among the best performers among blue chips. Looking ahead, the Federal Reserve's test of the banking sectors financial health will be released after the close, which could influence trade for banks including Goldman Sachs Group , and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. . Meanwhile, crude-oil prices , advanced 0.5%, to settle at $42.74 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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