Business & Tech

Health care companies lead US stocks fall

Traders worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York Tuesday.
Justin Lane/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Traders worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York Tuesday.

U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading Tuesday, extending the market’s losses from a day earlier. Health insurers, drugmakers and distributors led the slide following news that JPMorgan Chase, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway are launching a health care venture. Technology stocks also posted losses. Energy companies fell as crude oil prices headed lower.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 31 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,821 as of 10:11 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 306 points, or 1.2 percent, to 26,132. The Nasdaq lost 82 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,383. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 15 points, or 1 percent, to 1,583.

Health care sector companies slumped on news that Amazon is teaming up with Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to create a company that helps their U.S. employees find quality care at a reasonable cost. The venture, whose initial focus would be on developing technology, is in its early planning stage. Express Scripts fell $6.91, or 8.4 percent, to $75.01. Cigna slid $13.47, or 6 percent, to $210.43. UnitedHealth Group lost $11.70, or 4.7 percent, to $235.71.

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A sell-off in technology shares continued in early trading Tuesday. Corning lost $2.37, or 6.9 percent, to $31.88.

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Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.71 percent from 2.70 percent late Monday.

Benchmark U.S. crude slid 98 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $64.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 99 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $68.22 a barrel in London.

The slide in oil prices weighed on energy stocks. Noble Energy was down $1.48, or 4.6 percent, at $30.65.

The dollar, which fell sharply last week, declined to 108.51 yen from 108.94 yen late Monday. The euro rose to $1.2430 from $1.2389.