What's moving markets today: April 16, 2019

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5:04 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Health care stocks fall after UnitedHealth CEO says 'Medicare for All' proposals would hurt the industry

Health care companies looked anything but healthy Tuesday. The sector was the biggest drag on both the Dow and the S&P 500.

HCA Healthcare (HCA) fared the worst, dropping 10%. Cigna (CI) and Humana (HUM) both dropped more than 7%.

The sector-wide slump came after UnitedHealth CEO David Wichmann said "Medicare for All" policies, as proposed by some politicians and presumed candidates for the 2020 presidential election, would hurt the industry.

"The wholesale disruption of American health care being discussed in some of these proposals would surely jeopardize the relationship people have with their doctors, destabilize the nation's health system, and limit the ability of clinicians to practice medicine at their best," Wichmann said on his company's earnings call.

UnitedHealth's first quarter earnings beat Wall Street expectations. But those results still couldn't stave off Tuesday's losses. Like its peers, UnitedHealth (UNH) also fell — roughly 4%.

4:24 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Stocks close slightly higher, boosted by Qualcomm rally

Stock markets ended Tuesday slightly higher, helped by a last minute rally from Qualcomm.

The Dow closed 0.3%, or 68 points higher, while the S&P 500 inched up 0.1%. The Nasdaq ended 0.3% higher.

Chip maker Qualcomm (QCOM) was the strongest gainer in the S&P, closing 23% higher after the company reached a settlement and license agreement with Apple (AAPL).

Health care stocks were among the biggest losers of the day. UnitedHealth (UNH), HCA Healthcare (HCA) and Cigna (CI) all finishing the day lower. HCA dropped the most — about 10%. Earlier in the day, UnitedHealth’s CEO told investors on an earnings call that the “Medicare for All” proposals being discussed by Congress could “destabilize the nation’s health system.”

3:29 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Qualcomm rallies 16% on Apple dispute settlement

Shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) jumped some 16% to its highest level since October in late Tuesday trading, after the chip maker and Apple (AAPL) said they had agreed to dismiss all litigation between one another.

The two tech giants reached a six-year license agreement, starting April 2019, with a two-year extension option. Apple is also due to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount.

Apple shares were up 0.3%

3:44 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Gold prices slip as the dollar strengthens

Gold prices dropped, as the resilient US dollar stayed strong.

“The reason we are not seeing any rally in the gold price is mainly due to the strength in the US economic data," which in turn strengthens the greenback, wrote Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets.

"This has two impacts: firstly, traders are more interested in pouring money in riskier assets. Finally, they do not believe that the Fed is going to maintain the same monetary policy stance which they currently hold.”

Gold futures hit their lowest level since January, settling at $1277 an ounce. Earlier in the trading session, futures dropped to their worst level since December. And that could mean that gold is headed even lower.

1:47 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Chinese Tesla rival Nio's stock just hit an all-time low

Nio (NIO), the troubled car company billed as China's answer to Tesla, has hit an all-time low, according to our Paul R. La Monica:

Here's the stock's decline since it went public in September 2018:

  • Earlier this month, the Shanghai-based company said its sales have been sluggish so far this year and scrapped plans to build a factory in China.
  • The company blamed the slump on uncertainty over government subsidies for electric vehicles and China's slowing economy.
3:43 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

BlackRock's Larry Fink thinks stocks haven't reached their highs yet

BlackRock (BLK) CEO Larry Fink thinks US stocks, which are notably close to record highs, are more likely to rally further than to turn lower — even though many market watchers are worried about the next bubble.

"Despite where the markets are in equities, we have not seen money being put to work," Fink said on CNBC this morning, adding he was still seeing outflows in stocks.

Just months ago, investors assumed that the Federal Reserve would raise interest rates further, which would have been great for fixed income securities but not so great for stocks. BlackRock itself recorded a record $32 billion inflow into its bond funds between January and March, according to its first quarter results.

But with the Fed taking its foot off the gas, the reverse should hold true, and stocks should get another boost as allocations catch up, according to Fink's reasoning.

12:03 p.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Stocks hold earnings-fueled gains at midday

Stocks held their modest gains halfway through Tuesday’s trading day.

  • The Dow is up 0.2%
  • The S&P 500 is up 0.1%
  • The Nasdaq is up 0.3%, and earlier rose above 8,000 for the first time in six months

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), the best performing stock in the Dow today, is up 1.9% after beating expectations for its first quarter results.

The Dow's biggest loser? Shares of United Health Group (UNH), which also beat estimates and raised its 2019 forecast, are down 3.3%.

Insurance provider Progressive (PGR) led gainers in the S&P, climbing 6.6%, after reporting stronger-than-expected earnings.

11:02 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Nasdaq tops 8,000 for the first time since October

The Nasdaq rose above 8,000 points for the first time in six months on Tuesday.

It was led higher by gains in technology and health care stocks.

At its high, the benchmark touched 8,018 points on Tuesday, its best level since October 2018. It hit its all-time intraday high of 8,133 in September.

9:47 a.m. ET, April 16, 2019

Stocks edge higher at the open

US stocks kicked off Tuesday’s session off slightly higher as earnings remained in focus.

  • The Dow started the session 0.4%, or 111 points, higher. 
  • The S&P 500 rose 0.3% and the Nasdaq was up 0.4%.

In notable corporate results of the day, Bank of America (BAC) beat earnings expectations for but reported flat revenues. Its shares were down 2.1%. Asset manager BlackRock (BLK) reported strong results, including an influx of cash into fixed income ETFs. BlackRock stock climbed 1.9%.

Elsewhere, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and UnitedHealth (UNH) both beat expectations as well. Their shares were up 2.9% and 0.2%, respectively.