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An early gain fades on Wall Street

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 2:06 pm •  Published: March 21, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — An early gain on the stock market was mostly gone Friday afternoon, weighed down by biotechnology companies. Symantec plunged after abruptly firing its CEO late Thursday, and Nike fell after warning of softer sales.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 fell three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,869 as of 2:47 p.m. Eastern time. It traded as high as 1,882 earlier, four points above its most recent record high close on March 7. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 18 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,350. The Nasdaq composite dropped 39 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,279.

BIOTECH BATTERED: Health care stocks fell the most in the S&P 500 index. Biotech companies were especially hard-hit after lawmakers questioned the pricing of a Hepatitis C drug made by Gilead Sciences. Gilead lost $3.30, or 4.4 percent, to $72.23. Biogen Idec fell $30.36, or 9 percent, to $316.61. Biotech stocks have been on a tear recently. Gilead is still up 62 percent over the past year and Biogen is up 79 percent.

SWOOSH: Nike fell after warning that a stronger U.S. dollar will dampen its results this quarter. Strong demand for its shoes and apparel ahead of the World Cup in June helped its beat expectations in the previous quarter, the company said late Thursday. Nike, one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, lost $3.01, or 4 percent, to $76.25.

BOOTED: Symantec lost $2.63, or 13 percent, to $18.27. The maker of security software abruptly fired its CEO late Thursday. It was the second time in less than two years that the company has dismissed its chief executive.

COMPARE, CONTRAST: It might sound surprising that the stock market is trading near an all-time high with all the uncertainty surrounding China's slowing growth and simmering tensions between Russia and the West. But these concerns also highlight the relative health of the U.S. economy and stock market, said Dan Veru, chief investment officer of Palisade Capital Management in Fort Lee, N.J.

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