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Overnight Markets: Wall Street closes higher amid choppy session

Healthcare stocks fell after Trump said pharmaceutical companies were "getting away with murder" by charging high prices.

 
Overnight Markets: Wall Street closes higher amid choppy session

Wall Street closed higher after a choppy day on Wednesday as energy and technology gains countered a drop in healthcare stocks after President-elect Donald Trump said pharmaceutical companies were "getting away with murder" by charging high prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 99 points, or 0.5%, to 19,954, the S&P 500 gained six points, or 0.28%, to 2,275 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12 points, or 0.21%, to 5,564.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors ended the day higher. Energy stocks ended 1.2% higher as crude oil prices rose.

The S&P 500 healthcare index ended the session down 1% after falling as much as 1.9% earlier in the day and the Nasdaq biotechnology index sank 2.96%, ending a six-day winning streak for both indexes.

The S&P's technology index ended up 0.7%, boosted most by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

The biggest drag on the S&P's healthcare sector was Bristol-Meyers Squibb's (BMY.N) with a 5.3% decline, after news that Merck & Co. leapfrogged its rivals in the race to combine immunotherapy with other drugs as a treatment for lung cancer.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) fell 1.2%, while Abbvie (ABBV.N) declined 3.6%.

Elsewhere, Supervalu Inc. reported sales below forecasts, sending shares down 7.5% in early trading. Merck & Co. rose 2.9% after the drugmaker said the Food and Drug Administration would grant a priority review for one of its lung-cancer drug treatments.

Ford Motor Co. announced a special dividend and gave updates on its forecasts late Tuesday. Shares fell 1.4%.

In Asia, most stocks rose on Thursday in morning session after a pick-up on Wall Street but Tokyo tumbled after Trump’s first post-election press conference.

In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average 225 was down 0.9%, while Australia’s ASX All Ordinaries Index added 0.15%. In South Korea, the Kospi Index added 0.19%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index added 0.32%.

In China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.20%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.14%.

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