US stocks closed flat as the S&P500 continued to trade in a tight range this month (but up almost 10% this year) and oil prices (Brent crude + 0.9%) getting some relief following recent torrid sessions.
The Healthcare sector was one of the best performers yesterday (+1%) as the Senate released its health care reform bill. The proposal includes some provisions that are friendly to Healthcare companies (eg to eliminate some taxes). A vote on the bill is expected to be held next Tweek.
The Fed released Part I of its annual bank stress tests. The 34 largest US banks all cleared Part I for the third consecutive year (this tested if banks have enough capital to return cash to shareholders). In Part II, the Fed will determine if it approves of the banks’ specific capital plans. This will be released next week.
So far this quarter, Healthcare (+8.3%) and Technology (+6.2%) are the best-performing sectors, despite the headlines highlighting the latter’s recent weakness.
European equities also closed flat. Mirroring the US, Healthcare stocks (+1.9%) led the market in anticipation of the release of the US Senate Healthcare reform bill.
Energy stocks meanwhile trimmed their losses during the session, closing 0.3% lower.
A muted session for Asian stocks overnight with Japanese equities broadly unchanged.
China was off 0.5% – the positive news this week that 222 mainland Chinese stocks are to be included in the MSCI Emerging Market benchmark is being accompanied by greater scrutiny of outstanding issues to further open up Chinese markets.