REUTERS - U.S. stocks were mostly lower on Friday, dragged lower by healthcare and consumer staples shares.
Health stocks had rallied on Thursday after Senate Republicans unveiled legislation that would replace Obamacare.
However, the bill faced skepticism from the Democrats, who attacked the legislation as a callous giveaway to the rich that would leave millions without coverage.
UnitedHealth was down about 1 percent and was the biggest drag on the Dow. Other major health stocks, including Regeneron and Amgen, were down between 1 percent and 3 percent.
At 9:48 a.m. ET (1348 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 46.92 points, or 0.22 percent, at 21,350.37, the S&P 500 was down 2.2 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,432.3.
The Nasdaq Composite index was down 15.74 points, or 0.25 percent, at 6,220.94.
Investors also awaited economic data and speeches by Federal Reserve policymakers for clues on interest rate hikes amid concerns over oil prices.
Crude oil prices bounced off this week’s 10-month lows, but were still set for their worst first-half performance in almost two decades. [O/R]
Sliding oil prices have added to concerns on the inflation outlook, which along with a flattening yield curve, could pose a challenge to the Fed in deciding whether the economy was ready for another interest rate hike this year.
“There is a concern that economy maybe struggling slightly, with oil prices hitting lows,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“If it’s a supply problem, it’s wonderful for the market,” he said. “If it is demand that is starting to wane, then it’s going to create more questions than give us answers.”
At current levels, the S&P 500 energy index, down 15 percent so far this year, is on track to post its worst weekly decline in about 18 months.
Four of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the S&P 500 consumer discretionary sector’s 0.37 percent fall leading the decliners.
Shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs were up marginally following the Fed’s stress test results on Thursday.
The results showed that 34 largest U.S. banks have all cleared the first stage, implying they would be able to maintain enough capital in an extreme recession.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Cleveland Fed chief Loretta Mester and Fed governor Jerome Powell are all scheduled to make appearances later in the day.
Economic data due includes new U.S. single family home sales for May at 10:00 a.m. ET. The reading is expected to show that single family home sales likely grew 5.4 percent.
Caterpillar was off 0.74 percent, following a Deutsche Bank downgrade to “hold”.
U.S.-listed shares of Blackberry were down 10.6 percent at $9.88 after the company’s quarterly revenue missed analysts’ estimate.
Bed Bath & Beyond was down 10.4 percent after the home furnishing retailer reported a bigger-than-expected fall in same-store sales in the first quarter.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,307 to 1,195. On the Nasdaq, 1,317 issues fell.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila