Wall Street flat ahead of key healthcare vote

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US stocks opened largely unchanged on Thursday as investors sat on the sidelines ahead of a closely followed House of Representatives vote on a bill that would largely repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Signs that President Donald Trump might not be able to rally enough votes needed to pass the bill have shaken investor confidence in the administration’s ability to push through his other business-friendly policies and triggered a sharp stock sell-off earlier in the week.

Equities markets were calmer on Thursday, however, with both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 unchanged from their Wednesday close, while the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.1 per cent.

Treasuries and gold, which have been rallying this week as investors piled into haven assets, were also not seeing much action, with yield on the 10-year note steady at 2.4086 per cent, while gold nudged 11 cents lower to $1,248.73 per troy ounce.

The DXY index meanwhile broke a two day losing streak to eke out a 0.1 per cent gain.

“Markets have once again delivered a case of short-term sentiment first, longer-term fundamentals second. Despite weeks of policy failures in other areas, investors had clung to the belief that Trump and Congress could push through meaningful tax reform,” said Craig Inches, head of short rates and cash at Royal London Asset Management.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly given his record in other areas, concerns over his healthcare policy have now compounded, with many having doubts over the scope and scale of any reform, compounded by fears of the president’s protectionist stance.”

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