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Dow Up 230 on the Strength of Biotech and Healthcare

By: , dated March 16th, 2015

Markets were up in trading today as the health services sector surged. The Dow gained 228.11 points to close at 17,977.42, just under the record highs which were set earlier this month. The NASDAQ was also up, gaining 57.75 points to close at 4,929.51. The S&P 500 rose 27.79 points and ended trading today at 2,081.19. Overseas markets were strong today, with Germany's DAX leading the pack. The DAX gained 272.06 points and closed at 12,167.72. Japan's Nikkei was flat, losing -8.04 points. The FTSE in London was up 64.10 points to close at 6,804.08.

Netflix Falls After Analyst Downgrade. Online movie and television streaming company Netflix (NFLX) fell today, after a prominent analyst downgraded the stock from hold to sell. Share prices were down -16.43 points to $421.97. It was forecast that prices could fall as low as $380 by the end of the quarter.

Retail Spending Down In February Despite Sector Growth. A recently released report announced that consumer retail spending fell by 6% in February, down from this time last year. Despite the fact that employment numbers are rising and gasoline is near decade-long lows, consumers are paying down debt rather than increasing the amount they spend. Luxury non-durable manufacturers like PVH Corp (PVH), which makes footwear, fell slightly on the news. PVH was down -2.95 points to $94.35 per share.

Managed Healthcare Providers Continue To Make Gains. The health services sector rose 13% today, primarily on the backs of managed care and biotech companies. Humana (HUM) rose 7.81 points to $174.31 per share. Anthem Inc (ANTM) was up 3.24 points to $153.25 per share. Centene (CNC) and Cigna (CI) were up 1.96 and 2.12 points respectively. The health services sector continues to lead the market in growth.

Alcoa Is Down As Metal Prices Fall. Domestic aluminum refiner Alcoa (AA) saw share prices dip today, as metal futures continue to fall. Alcoa lost 2% and ended the day's trading at $13.29 per share. The commodities markets in general were up today, although metals have been struggling in the past month as a strengthening dollar and flat demand cause prices to fall.

Amgen, Biogen Skyrocket On Strong Financials. Biotech companies Amgen (AMGN) and Biogen (BIIB) both made gains today. Share prices shot up on expanding business and increasing profits as the healthcare industry continues to modernize and look to biotech for new treatments. Amgen lead the market in gains, adding 8.77 points to close at $163.03 per share. Biogen gained 7.97 points and ended today's trading at $421.32 per share. Both companies should continue to grow as biotech treatments continue to compete with prescription drugs.

Aaron Phillips is freelance writer and journalist based in Mid-Michigan. He writes the daily market commentary and weekly market recap for investorguide.com.

Copyrighted 2015. Content published with author's permission.

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