U.S. shares, dollar pare losses after healthcare bill pulled

Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:04pm EDT
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. shares pared losses to end slightly lower on Friday after Republicans pulled their bill to overhaul the U.S. healthcare system due to a shortage of votes, dealing a blow to U.S. President Donald Trump, while European shares fell ahead of the decision.

The benchmark U.S. S&P 500 stock index ended a touch lower after falling as much as 0.4 percent earlier, before a House Republican leadership aide said the bill to dismantle Obamacare had been pulled by U.S. House Republican leadership. Traders were on tenterhooks during most of the session as they awaited the outcome of the vote.

European stocks slipped as caution prevailed ahead of the decision, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares falling about 0.5 percent for the week.

But many analysts and investors have seen a failure of the bill as a catalyst to bring forward action on pro-growth policies such as tax reform, deregulation and infrastructure spending.

"The market is taking it as a positive that they are not pursuing something that looked like it was hitting a brick wall, and that means it’s more likely they can move on to other issues the market would like such as deregulation and lower taxes," said Margaret Patel, senior portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Asset Management in Boston.

MSCI's all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 0.24 point, or 0.05 percent, at 447.72.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI closed down 59.86 points, or 0.29 percent, at 20,596.72. The S&P 500 .SPX closed down 1.98 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,343.98. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC ended 11.05 points higher, or 0.19 percent, at 5,828.74.

Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.16 percent at 1,484.54.   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 21, 2017.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson