Health sector bids offset Athens woes - New York Report

TALK of multi-billion dollar healthcare deals buoyed shares in the sector, cutting into the market’s loss off the back of investor fears over the consequences of a possible debt default by Greece.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 107.67 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 17,791.17, the S&P 500 lost 9.68 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 2,084.43 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.13 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 5,029.97.

In the health market, Cigna shares jumped as much as 19.4 per cent to a record high of $164, buoying the health sector, after the Wall Street Journal reported Cigna rebuffed a takeover offer from rival Anthem that valued it at about $45bn (£29bn). Cigna closed up 11.7 per cent to $153.43.

The WSJ story said UnitedHealth could be also eyeing deals with Cigna or Aetna. UnitedHealth shares rose 1.1 per cent to $118.98 and Aetna added 4.4 per cent to $121.01. Humana, previously seen as a target from Cigna, fell 2.8 per cent to $206.58.

One deal that was announced involved drugstore operator CVS Health buying Target’s pharmacies and clinics. The $1.9bn deal should help CVS bargain with drugmakers for lower prices. CVS shares edged up 0.4 per cent to $102.58 while Target gained 1.2 per cent to $80.45.

Shares of United Technologies weighed the most on the Dow Industrials, down 2.5 per cent at $114.61. It said it is exiting the helicopter business and would decide whether to spin off or sell its $8bn Sikorsky unit, the US military’s largest helicopter maker.