Monday, December 13, 2010

Helping the economy

U.S. stocks rose on Tuesday as investors bet that a Senate race in Massachusetts could put President Obama's reform plans, especially those on healthcare, in jeopardy.

The S&P Healthcare Index (.GSPA) climbed 2.1 percent, led byHumana Inc (HUM.N), which jumped 5.5 percent to $51.17, as voters headed to the polls to determine who will replace Edward Kennedy in a close race.

Pharmaceutical companies' shares also advanced, with Merck & Co (MRK.N) up 3 percent at $40.64, and Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) up 2.2 percent at $19.91. The pair represented the Dow's top twopercentage gainers.

"A Republican win would be a positive for the markets since it would mean increased potential for gridlock in Washington," said Carmine Grigoli, chief U.S. strategist at Mizuho Securities USA inNew York.

"This is probably especially true now, given the very large social agenda of the Obama administration."

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