October 21, 2015 / 1:35 AM / 2 years ago

Stocks slip, oil falls, U.S. dollar firmer

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks indexes slipped on Wednesday on a tumble in healthcare and energy stocks, while oil prices slumped after U.S. government data showed a rise in crude inventories, adding to worries about oversupply.

Gloomy quarterly earnings reports dragged on European shares, but were offset by hopes for ongoing central bank support for the economy ahead of a European Central Bank meeting on Thursday.

MSCI’s all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last down 0.31 percent.

U.S. health insurers’s shares fell after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she has “serious concerns” about the plan by health insurer Aetna Inc’s (AET.N) plan to acquire Humana Inc (HUM.N), and Anthem Inc’s (ANTM.N) proposal to buy Cigna Corp (CI.N). The S&P healthcare index .SPXHC ended 0.86 percent lower.

Valeant Pharmaceutical’s (VRX.N) U.S.-listed shares were down 40 percent intraday, hitting a low of $88.50 before regaining ground to close at $118.61, after short-seller Citron Research released a critical report about the company. Energy shares also fell with oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI closed down 0.28 percent, at 17,168.61. The S&P 500 .SPX closed down 0.58 percent, at 2,018.94. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC ended down 0.84 percent, at 4,840.12.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended 0.02 percent lower at 1,431.61.

OIL PRICES FALL

Brent crude oil prices LCOc1 fell to $47.50 a barrel, before closing at $47.85, while U.S. crude CLc1 prices hit $44.86, their lowest levels since Oct. 2, before settling at $45.20.

U.S. crude oil inventories rose 8 million barrels last week, the government-run Energy Information Administration (EIA) said.

U.S. crude oil inventories are at the highest for this time of year since records began.

“If the inventory buildup this fall, winter, and spring continues in this manner from today’s much higher starting point, we can look forward to a fiasco on the storage front – and on the pricing front,” said Wolf Richter of Wolf Street Corp in San Francisco.

U.S. Treasury yields slumped after disappointing Japanese exports revived worries about sputtering world growth and dimmed prospects for a quick hike in U.S. interest rates. U.S. 30-year Treasury bonds US30YT=RR were last up 1-5/32 in price to yield 2.87 percent, from a yield of 2.92 percent late Tuesday.

The U.S. dollar rose against emerging-market and commodity-linked currencies as Chinese stocks slid, while inching higher against the euro ahead of the ECB meeting.

“Expectations are for no change in the ECB’s current QE program - launched in March and currently scheduled to go through September 2016,” CRT Capital analysts David Ader and Ian Lyngen wrote. “That said, sentiment has shifted in favor of an expansion of the program sometime within the next several months.”

The U.S. dollar was last 0.48 percent higher against the Mexican peso MXN= at 16.63 pesos and was 0.86 percent higher against the Brazilian real at 3.94 reals BRL=. The euro was last down 0.05 percent against the greenback at $1.13395 EUR=EBS.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last up 0.14 percent at 95.043 .DXY.

Gold fell almost 1.0 percent for its biggest one-day loss in three weeks on technical selling and long liquidation. U.S. gold futures GCv1 for December delivery settled down $10.0 an ounce, or 0.9 percent, at $1,167.1.

Additional reporting by Jamie McGeever in London and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Josephine Mason, Michael Connor, and Caroline Valetkevitch in New York; Editing by Clive McKeef

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