US stocks dip as Trump health vote delayed

Wall Street's gains turn to losses in the late afternoon Thursday as investors worry about President Trump's ability to deliver on his policy agenda.
Trump welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House, March 23, 2017, to discuss health care.
Trump welcomes truckers and CEOs to the White House, March 23, 2017, to discuss health care.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks dipped on Thursday (March 23) as the House of Representatives delayed a vote on a health-care replacement Bill seen as a barometer of congressional support for President Donald Trump's agenda.

Trump and Republican congressional leaders had pushed hard for the Bill, which would undo President Barack Obama's signature health-care law. But congressional leaders postponed the scheduled vote that was expected to be a nail-biter.

The worry on the market is that the delay could push back other pro-growth reforms that investors are hoping for, including tax cuts and deregulation.


"There is a concern that if the repeal and replace of the affordable care act takes long enough, we will not get tax reform this year and the market is trying to recalibrate that," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

"We'll see what happens next."

All three major stock indices slipped 0.1 per cent by the close, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending the trading day at 20,656.58.

The broad-based S&P 500 closed at 2,345.96, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped to 5,817.69.

Google parent Alphabet dropped 1.5 per cent after AT&T and Verizon joined a Google ad boycott due to the placement of their ads alongside offensive content posted by white supremacists and religious extremists.

Morgan Stanley said in a note the issue was unlikely to significantly affect Google's near-term results provided it takes action.

"Google isn't yet fully addressing advertisers' concerns and needs to take stronger steps to regain the trust of brands," the note said.

Ford shares dropped 0.9 per cent after it lowered its first quarter earnings estimate, saying it would come in well below analysts' expectations amid an industry-wide decline in US and Chinese car sales in 2017.

Consultancy firm Accenture dropped 4.5 per cent as it reported a 37.7 per cent decline in second-quarter earnings to US$838.8 million (S$1.1 billion).