Stocks lost ground in Wednesday afternoon trading after President-elect Donald Trump met with the press in a conference for the first time in six months.
His harsh words against the drug industry hurt the Dow and pulled it further from the 20,000 milestone traders have been eyeing for weeks. The Dow is down 10 points to 19,845, after being as high as 19,973 earlier in the day.
Health care stocks got hit after Trump criticized the industry moving production overseas as well as the bidding process for drugs. Energy stocks continued their strength as oil prices headed higher.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose as high as 110 points to 19,973.42 in early trading and then tumbled and briefly turned negative during Trump's comments.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up gains as well and was down 0.3% and the Nasdaq composite was down 0.5%. The Nasdaq has yet to close lower this year but is in danger of snapping a six-day winning streak.
The health care sector was the biggest loser among the S&P 500 sectors. Trump said the government has to create new bidding procedures for the pharmaceutical drug industry “because they’re getting away with murder.” The remarks sent the S&P health care sector down 1.7%. Several pharmaceutical companies slumped, with Endo International (ENDP) falling 9%, the biggest decliner in the S&P 500. Perrigo (PRGO) lost 7% and Mallinckrodt (MNK) tumbled 7%.
Energy stocks were the biggest winners as oil prices jumped. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 3.4% to $52.56 a barrel in electronic trading. Shares of Exxon Mobil rose 65 cents, or 0.8%, to $86.61.
Bond prices rose after Trump's news conference, sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.36% from 2.38% Tuesday.
Investors were also looking ahead to the start of corporate earnings reports later this week. Big U.S. companies start reporting fourth-quarter earnings this week. On Friday JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America release their results.
Overseas, Germany’s DAX was up 0.5% while France’s CAC 40 was flat. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.2%.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.3% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8%. The Shanghai Composite slipped 0.8%.