Stocks – Dow Posts Second-Biggest Point Gain on Biden Bounce

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By Yasin Ebrahim – The Dow racked up its second-biggest point gain on record Wednesday, driven by a surge in healthcare stocks as former Vice President Joe Biden’s race for the Democratic presidential nomination gained traction following a surprisinly strong Super Tuesday performance.

The surged 4.22%, the gained 3.85% and the rose 4.53%, or 1,173 points.

With his campaign widely believed to be on the brink of collapse a few weeks ago, Biden won ten of the 14 states in which voters cast ballots on Super Tuesday, setting up a close race for the Democratic presidential nomination against Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Healthcare stocks surged as Biden’s strong showing eased the prospect of a Sanders victory, which many fear would trigger major disruptions for the industry with a Medicare for All policy.

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:) surged 10.8%, Anthem (NYSE:) rose 15.6%, Centene (NYSE:) was up 15.5%, Humana (NYSE:) gained 14.5 and Cigna (NYSE:) rose 10.7%.

The surge in stocks came against signs the novel coronavirus spread continues to accelerate in the U.S.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo confirmed five more infections in the state, raising the number of cases in the state to 11, and nearly 130 nationwide, with 11 deaths reported so far.

The virus outbreak has wreaked havoc on travel demand, prompting United Airlines (NASDAQ:) to cut domestic and international flights for April.

United Airlines rose 2% on the day, with American Airlines (NASDAQ:) 3.9%.

Energy stocks, meanwhile, shrugged off a decline in oil prices to rise more than 2% day.

Sentiment was also boosted by better-than-expected services sector activity, which drives the bulk of economic growth.

data for February showed an uptick to 57.3, beating expectations of 54.9. This represents the highest reading for the service sector index since February 2019.

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