US stocks mostly hold gains, bio-techs slip

The Dow and S&P 500 remain buoyant late in the New York trading day, but the NASDAQ has sunk into the red.

A healthy drop in jobless claims earlier today continues to lift the US stock market for the most part, with the S&P 500 on track for another closing record with most of the trading day gone. With under 20 minutes to the closing bell, the Dow was up 0.49% at 16,440, while the S&P 500 gained 0.30% to 1879.4.

The NASDAQ 100 was dragged into negative territory though, as the health care and biotechnology sector slumped. Biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences lost more than 3%, while competitor Amgen dropped 1.4%. Bucking the trend was Sangamo Biosciences, which rocketed more than 17% on news that a genome-modifying treatment reduced the viral load  of some HIV patients in a small study.

President Obama has signed an executive order allowing the US to impose sanctions on those considered to be violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and said that ‘We intend to impose costs on Russia for this intervention’.

The Ukrainian situation no longer appears to be hindering sentiment in the financial markets, however, and the focus tomorrow is likely to be mainly on the monthly employment report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Expectations are for an increase of 149,000 to be announced for non-farm payrolls for last month.

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