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Dow, S&P 500 book 3rd straight loss, even as oil and health care rally

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


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 repealing and
replacing 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

XLF, -0.58%

including Goldman Sachs Group


and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.


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