Pharma and jobs data calm edgy investors - New York Report

US SHARES closed down yesterday for the second day in a row as investors stepped back after a recent rally ahead of jobs data due later in the week.

Healthcare stocks were the only bright spot in the market after a US Supreme Court hearing and a cancer drug approval.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 106.47 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 18,096.9, the S&P 500 lost 9.25 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 2,098.53 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 12.76 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 4,967.14.

Equities had surged in February and both the Dow and S&P hit record highs on Monday, when the Nasdaq surpassed the 5,000 level for the first time in 15 years.

Bristol Myers Squibb shares surged six per cent to $65.67 after US health regulators approved its Opdivo treatment for lung cancer.

HCA Holdings closed up 5.8 per cent at $74.93 and Tenet Healthcare finished 6.2 per cent better at $49.99.

The US economy continued to expand across most regions and sectors from early January through mid-February, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book report.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 212,000 jobs in February, short of the 220,000 forecast, although January’s reading was revised upward.

Readings on the services sector from Markit and the Institute for Supply Management both pointed to modest growth.