Poor forecasts from drug firms leave Wall St flat

US stocks finished little changed yesterday as disappointing outlooks from healthcare companies offset strong earnings from Morgan Stanley and Apple.

Healthcare stocks took a beating after both Abbott Laboratories and Gilead cut profit forecasts.

Both Abbott and Gilead cited the impact of costs from US healthcare reform in their outlooks.

The two represented a setback in an otherwise upbeat earnings season so far. “We still have a lot more news on how healthcare stocks are going to be affected. Slowly people will figure out winners and losers as the law gets implemented,” said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments Lisle, Illinois. “With all the good earnings we’ve had lately, you’re getting a bit of profit-taking.”

The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 7.86 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 11,124.92.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dipped 1.23 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 1,205.94.

The Nasdaq Composite Index inched up 4.30 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 2,504.61.

After the closing bell, investors received more disappointing outlooks that may pressure the market today. Chipmaker Qualcomm gave a weak forecast for the current quarter and full year, sending its stock down six per cent to $39.95 in after-hours trading.