US equities poised to steady with healthcare in spotlight

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Will investors shrug off or sell off in response to latest developments in healthcare reform?

After a shaky start to the week, US equity indices are set to edge lower again as Washington turns its focus to Republicans’ legislative push on healthcare, a major component of the American economy, as well as President Donald Trump’s pre-market tweets on the same subject.

Ahead of Tuesday’s opening bell, and after closing broadly lower on Monday, futures tip the Dow Jones Industrial Average to open down 0.1 per cent at 20,935. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are poised for respective losses of about 0.16 per cent apiece, taking them to 2,371 and 5,351 respectively.

Investors are digesting what impact, if any, newly unveiled legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act — also known as “Obamacare — will have on companies involved in the massive healthcare sector, including insurers, care providers and pharmaceutical companies.

Drugmakers will also be waiting to see how investors respond to Mr Trump’s pre-market tweet in which he said he was “working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry. Pricing for the American people will come way down!”

Elsewhere, the US dollar gathered strength as the case for a March interest-rate raise by the Federal Reserve solidifies, with the dollar index — which measures the buck against a basket of peers — up 0.2 per cent to 101.8. The 10-year Treasury yield, which moves in the opposite direction of its price, picked up another 0.7 basis point to hit 2.50 before market’s open.

Overseas, the Nikkei closed down 0.18 per cent and the Hang Seng ended the Asian trading day up 0.36 per cent, with yet more intrigue focusing on North Korea. The Dax and FTSE 100 were each up about 0.1 per cent on the day so far.

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