(Reuters) – U.S. stocks posted slight gains on Friday as a rise in healthcare shares ahead of President Donald Trump’s speech on drug pricing more than made up for losses in Symantec and Nvidia.
The president is expected to renew his focus on controlling prescription drug prices in a highly anticipated speech at 2:00 p.m. ET.
“It’s relatively quiet in terms of drivers today. Trump’s speech really hasn’t had much of an impact on pharma or biotech thus far,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Boston.
“Three of the four drivers that we had yesterday are still with us, benign 10-year (Treasury yields), oil and dollar, and technically breaking above the 100-day and 50-day on S&P was significant.”
The S&P healthcare index rose 0.8 percent, providing the biggest boost to the S&P 500.
Trump is also set to meet the heads of 10 major automakers, including those from General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, at the White House to discuss the fate of landmark fuel efficiency standards and a looming confrontation with California and other major states.
The S&P 500 reclaimed its 100-day moving average on Thursday, suggesting to some traders that the market may move higher. A day earlier it had topped its 50-day moving average, an indicator of short-term momentum.
At 9:53 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 78.50 points, or 0.32 percent, at 24,818.03, the S&P 500 was up 3.01 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,726.08 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 14.16 points, or 0.19 percent, at 7,390.81.
Verizon rose 3.6 percent after JPMorgan upgraded the wireless carrier to “overweight”, saying 5G opportunity will start to crystallize in next few months.
The tech sector came under pressure from a set of disappointing results.
Nvidia, the best performing chipmaker stock this year, fell 2.6 as investors worried that a short-term surge in demand for graphics chips from cryptocurrency miners may be undermining its core business with computer gamers.
The results weighed on shares of other chipmakers. Advanced Micro Devices was down 3.1 percent.
Symantec Corp slumped 32.9 percent after the Norton Antivirus maker said it was investigating concerns raised by a former employee and reported full-year results below analysts’ estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 2.01-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.52-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 18 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 70 new highs and 25 new lows.
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)