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Dow Gives up Early Gains as Pfizer Falls; Procter & Gamble, JPMorgan Climb

Dan Caplinger
March 24, 2014

TheĀ Dow Jones Industrials (DJINDICES: ^DJI) got off to a strong start Monday, jumping 75 points in the first few minutes of trading. Yet those gains evaporated quickly, hastened by a drop in the flash Markit Purchasing Managers' Index for March, and as of 10:45 a.m. EDT, the Dow was down 27 points. Pacing the decline was Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), offsetting gains from Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM).

Pfizer fell almost 2% even after releasing phase 3 study results over the weekend for its tofacitinib treatment for chronic plaque psoriasis. The study found that the oral treatment demonstrated noninferiority among patients taking 10 mg of the drug twice a day compared to twice-weekly doses of injected Enbrel, but that smaller 5 mg doses were insufficient to meet the noninferiority criteria. With tofacitinib already approved for use in rheumatoid arthritis under the brand name Xeljanz, expanding its indications would be a win for Pfizer, but ongoing concerns about the future of health-care regulation could weigh on the stock's longer-term prospects. Those general concerns also appear to be holding Merck (N