Wall Street wobbled in early trading on Thursday as healthcare stocks snapped a three-day rally after UnitedHealth cut its profit forecast for the year.
Dow component UnitedHealth fell 5.6 percent to$110.73. The health insurer was the biggest drag on the Dow and S&P 500. The profit warning sent shares of peers Anthem and Aetna down more than 5 percent.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s October meeting, which were released on Wednesday, hardened expectations of a December interest rate hike and hinted at a cautious approach after that.
Data on Thursday appeared to support the Fed’s view of a strengthening labor market as the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week.
U.S. interest rates futures implied a 72 percent chance of a liftoff next month, up from 64 percent on Tuesday.
At 9:56 a.m. ET (1456 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 2.21 points, or 0.01 percent, at 17,739.37, the S&P 500 was up 1.93 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,085.51 and the Nasdaq Composite index was up 9.83 points, or 0.19 percent, at 5,085.03.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, led by the consumer staples sector’s 0.60 percent increase. Healthcare and energy sectors were the two losers.
Pfizer was down 1.3 percent after Reuters reported that the company’s talks to buy Allergan and redomicile in Ireland had accelerated. Allergan was down 2 percent.
Best Buy’s shares were down 7.7 percent at $28.90, after its comparable sales for the quarter missed estimates.
Salesforce was up 6 percent at $82 after its quarterly adjusted profit beat estimates and the online sales software maker raised full-year revenue forecast.
Keurig Green Mountain jumped 16 percent to $47 after its quarterly results beat estimates.
In one of the most anticipated IPOs this year, mobile payments company Square will start trading on Thursday.
Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer and Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart are slated to speak later in the day.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,506 to 1,192. On the Nasdaq, 1,244 issues rose and 1,082 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 17 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and 34 new lows.