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HomeTraditional FinanceEconomyDow Rises on Healthcare Surge, but Tech Sector Continues to Struggle

Dow Rises on Healthcare Surge, but Tech Sector Continues to Struggle

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher on Wednesday, with healthcare stocks leading the gains. However, the ongoing slump in the technology sector limited the gains as concerns about the economy persisted. The Federal Reserve officials talked about further rate hikes, while data pointing to underlying economic weakness triggered fresh recession fears.

Dow Gains, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Slip

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2%, or 80 points, while the S&P 500 fell 0.3%, and the Nasdaq fell 1.2%. The tech sector stumbled, led by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:META), as monthly private payrolls in March fell short of estimates, stoking risk sentiment.

Private Payrolls in March Lower Than Expected

According to a report by ADP and Moody’s Analytics, private payrolls grew by 145,000 in March, a sharp decline from the 261,000 in February, and well short of economists’ forecast of 200,000. This data added to concerns about the underlying weakness in the economy.

Services ISM Misses Consensus

Additionally, the services ISM fell to a reading of 52.6 in March from 50.6 in February, missing the consensus of 53.8. Jefferies commented that “much of the pressure that fuels inflation is rooted in sticky-high unit labor costs in the service sector,” and that the prices paid index suggests that “this pressure remains very firm, and will keep the Fed on track for another rate hike in May.”

Wall street floor

Tech Sector Stumbles

The tech sector also stumbled, as NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) fell more than 2% on worries about increased competition after Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google revealed details about its artificial intelligence chips, claiming they were faster and less power hungry than that of rivals. Palantir Technologies (NYSE:PLTR) also came under pressure after announcing its expanded cloud computing pact with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to the public sector.

Healthcare Stocks Boosted by Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), a major Dow component, ended up 4.5% and lifted healthcare stocks after announcing that its subsidiary LTL Management has re-filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This news came just months after an appeals court rejected its “Texas two-step” process to settle lawsuits that allege its talc products caused cancer.

Energy Stocks Recovered, Defensive Corners Rise

Energy stocks recovered ground from a slump a day earlier as oil prices struggled for direction following data showing U.S. weekly crude inventories fell more than expected last week. Defensive corners of the market including utilities and consumer staples were in the ascendency, with the latter boosted by a rise in Conagra Brands. ConAgra Foods (NYSE:CAG) rose about 2% after reporting quarterly results that beat Wall Street estimates on both top and bottom lines as the frozen-food maker’s price hikes helped offset weaker demand.

FedEx Corporation’s Delivery Networks to Merge

In other news, FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) announced plans to combine its ground, air, and other delivery networks into a single business by June 2024 to accelerate cost-cutting efforts.

In summary, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed higher on Wednesday, led by healthcare stocks, while the technology sector continued to struggle. Economic concerns persisted as private payrolls in March fell short of estimates, and the services ISM missed the consensus. The defensive corners of the market were in the ascendency, with utilities and consumer staples leading the gains.

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