Friday, March 24, 2017
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Market Digest Online FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017: U.S. stocks fell on Thursday after a key vote in the House regarding a Republican-led health care bill was delayed. The Dow Jones industrial average fell about 5 points, with UnitedHealth contributing the most losses. The 30-stock index had traded about 96 points higher earlier in the session. The S&P 500 slipped 0.1 percent, having traded 0.45 percent higher earlier, as health care and energy led decliners. The Nasdaq composite fell around 0.1 percent after rising 0.36 percent at session highs.

The House vote is crucial for the Trump agenda. Trump has said the repeal and replacement of Obamacare must happen before action can be taken on his other plans, including a major tax reduction. Expectations for such policies had been a boon for the stock market's postelection rally.

Republicans need 215 votes for passage. However, the American Health Care Act's passage in the House has been anything but certain.

"The health care bill is really the first 'put up or shut up' moment of Trump's presidency," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network. "With the health care bill, we now will find out whether meaningful change can really happen — or not."

The bill, if signed into law, would effectively repeal and replace Obamacare, thus accomplishing one of President Donald Trump's first legislative goals.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims rose by 15,000 to 258,000, above the expected print of 240,000. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen spoke at a conference in Washington, D.C., but did not comment on monetary policy. New home sales hit a seven-month high last month, rising 6.1 percent to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 592,000, topping expectations.

U.S. Treasurys traded mixed, as the benchmark 10-year note yield held near 2.41 percent and the two-year note yield hovered around 1.24 percent. The dollar gained 0.04 percent against a basket of currencies, with the euro near $1.078 and the yen around 111.

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