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Stock Market News for April 07, 2016

Benchmarks closed in the green on Wednesday following gains in biotech and energy stocks. Record gains in biotech stocks also had a positive impact on health care sector. Increase in oil prices following decline in crude inventories boosted energy stocks. The Nasdaq touched its highest level for the year till date. However, minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) March’s policy meeting showed that policymakers held differing views about April rate hike chances, which in turn limited some of yesterday’s gains.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) increased more than 0.6%, or 112.73 points, to close at 17,716.05. The S&P 500 rose 1.1% to close at 2,066.66. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 4,920.72, gaining 1.6%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) decreased 8.6% to settle at 14.09. A total of around 6.9 billion shares were traded on Wednesday, lower than the last 20-session average of 7.2 billion shares. Advancers outpaced declining stocks on the NYSE. For 72% stocks that advanced, 24% declined.

Health-care stocks rose yesterday following strong gains in Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and Allergan plc ( AGN). Despite calling off the planned merger between the two pharmaceutical giants, shares of Pfizer and Allergan jumped 5% and 3.5% respectively. Both the companies indicated that they may explore separate deals for the betterment of their financial conditions.

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders said that the company “could act immediately if” it gets “the right opportunity with the right growth profile and the right strategic logic.” Pfizer is also considering new acquisitions to boost growth and revenue. Additionally, approval of multi-dose vial presentation of Pfizer’s Prevenar vaccine by European regulators also boosted the company’s shares.

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) increased 2.7% and was the best performer among the S&P 500 sectors. Its other key stocks from the sector including, Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK), AbbVie Inc. ( ABBV), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY), Endo International plc (ENDP) and Medtronic plc (MDT) increased 2.6%, 2.3%, 1.2%, 8.6% and 2.4%, respectively.

Additionally, iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology (IBB) rose 6%, posting its best percentage gain since March 12, 2009. Key biotech stocks including, Amgen Inc. (AMGN), Biogen Inc. (BIIB), Gilead Sciences Inc. ( GILD), Celgene Corporation (CELG) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX) increased 4.4%, 5.3%, 2%, 6% and 8.5%, respectively.

Moreover, oil prices increased following a decline in crude inventories. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported Wednesday that the U.S. commercial crude oil inventories fell 4.9 million barrels to 529.9 million for the week ended April 1. The surprise fall in crude inventories was mainly because of rise in refinery activity and fall in imports. Both the WTI crude and Brent crude increased by 4.9% to $37.73 per barrel and $39.84 a barrel, respectively.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) increased 2.2% and was the second biggest gainer among the S&P 500 sectors. Its key components including, Schlumberger Ltd (SLB), EOG Resources (EOG), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. (PXD) increased 0.7%, 1%, 4% and 1.3%, respectively. Dow components Chevron Corp ( CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM) rose 2.3% and 1.3%, respectively.

Further, the minutes on Federal Reserve’s March two-day policy meeting released on Wednesday indicated that the Fed officials shared diverse views regarding rate hike chances. Some Fed officials believed that “a cautious approach to raising rates would be prudent.” They also “noted their concern that raising the target range” this month might “signal a sense of urgency they did not think appropriate.”

However, other Fed policymakers “indicated that an increase in the target range” in the Committee’s April meeting could be appropriate “if the incoming economic data” could reach “their expectations.” They expect inflation rate to rise to 2% “over the medium term,” stronger labor market and “moderate growth in output.”

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