Wall Street hit by healthcare slump; U.S. yields rise

Tue Oct 20, 2015 2:24pm EDT
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By Sam Forgione

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury yields rose on Tuesday on signs of improvement in the U.S. housing market, while Wall Street was mostly lower after a slump in healthcare and biotech stocks.

The S&P healthcare sector .SPXHC fell 1.6 percent, dragged down by Allergan (AGN.N: Quote) and Pfizer (PFE.N: Quote), while a drop in IBM shares also offset gains in companies that reported strong quarterly results such as Verizon (VZ.N: Quote) and United Technologies (UTX.N: Quote).

European shares ended lower, with traders citing profit-taking in the absence of anything to justify extending the recent gains. Major energy stocks such as BP (BP.L: Quote) and Total (TOTF.PA: Quote) were among the decliners.

S&P 500 companies are expected to show a 3.9-percent fall in third-quarter profit and revenue is expected to fall 3.8 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

"In the face of falling revenues, the market is going to be concerned about the next several quarters unless there can be some turnaround and resumption of growth in revenue," said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR hit 2.079 percent, their highest in over a week.

Commerce Department data showed U.S. housing starts increased 6.5 percent in September to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 1.21 million units. That beat expectations for 1.15 million units, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

MSCI's all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS, which tracks shares in 45 nations, was last down 0.27 percent. Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.45 percent at 1,431.95.   Continued...

A man shelters under an umbrella as he walks past the London Stock Exchange in London, Britain August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett