US stocks mixed after Fed chair’s testimony

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New York, Feb 28 (IANS) US stocks ended mixed, as investors digested a slew of issues, including a batch of economic data and US Federal Reserve chair’s testimony.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 72.82 points, or 0.28 percent, to 25,985.16 on Wednesday. The S&P 500 was down 1.52 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,792.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.21 points, or 0.07 percent, to 7,554.51, Xinhua reported.

Shares of UnitedHealth Group dropped nearly 5 percent around market close, as the overall healthcare sector was weighed down after a U.S. congressional hearing on medicines’ prices in Washington.

Shares of Mylan NV slumped more than 15 percent around market close, as the U.S. generic drugmaker reported soft profit for the fourth quarter of 2018 which was below market expectations, and weaker-than-expected earnings guidance for 2019.

Six of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors traded lower around market close, with the health care sector down over 0.5 percent, leading the laggards.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that the central bank will announce a plan to end its balance sheet runoff “fairly soon.”

Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee, the central bank chief elaborated on the monetary policy and said Fed officials are “close to agreeing on a plan” to stop shrinking the size of the agency’s bond holdings.

Powell said the Fed’s total assets currently stand at close to 4.0 trillion dollars, representing a decline of about 310 billion dollars since the middle of last year.

On the economic front, the U.S. trade deficit in goods rose 12.8 percent in December, after dropping in the previous month, according to an advanced estimate from the U.S. Census Bureau released on Wednesday.

Factory goods orders eked out 0.1 percent increase in December 2018, amid falling demand for machinery and electrical equipment, appliances and components, the Department of Commerce said Wednesday.

–IANS

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