U.S. Equities Decline Despite Gains In Energy Sector

U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, led down by healthcare companies despite gains in the energy sector.

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Energy stocks gained following the announcement by OPEC that it would meet next month. Though details of the informal meeting of the OPEC remain scant at this juncture, investors are betting that plans to freeze oil production could be discussed. U.S. oil prices rose 2.9% to $43.02 a barrel, a 2-week high, following the report the OPEC meeting planned for September.

But losses and pipeline disappointment in the healthcare sector rattled U.S. equities, causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI), the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) and the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) to all close lower on Monday.

How the indices performed

The Dow fell 0.1% to 18529.29 and with that the blue-chip index registered its ninth loss in 11 sessions.

The S&P 500 declined 0.1% to 2180.89. The broader index got support from rising energy stocks such as Transocean LTD (NYSE:RIG), which rose 2.6% and Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO), which rose 2.7%.

But gains in the energy sector were more than offset by declining healthcare stocks. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) pulled back 4.7%, while Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) retreated 2.2%. Investors exited Bristol-Myers after the company’s cancer drug disappointed in a clinical trial and Allergan lost its investor appeal after it said losses doubled in the second quarter.

On its part, the NASDAQ Composite eased 0.2% to 5213.14, thus ending a streak of gains spanning three sessions.

Mixed economic data

Other than stock losses, thin trading on Monday also showed how investors are struggling to digest the mixed economic data. While more jobs than expected were created in July, GDP growth data disappointed, yet these are some of the key measures that the Federal Reserve is expected to use in gauging whether the economy is ready or not for an interest rate hike.

Experts are already asking what now is important considering the mixed economic data reported so far.

“What’s the important number, this one [jobs] report or this slew of other macro data that continues to be weak?” asked Kenny Polcari of O’Neil Securities.

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