Nearing the end of the first quarter, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) pumped the breaks, ending a bit lower today. With the markets closed for Good Friday, tomorrow is the last trading day of the month. A quick look back reveals just how bullish 2013 has been: Should the market trade evenly tomorrow, the benchmark index is on pace for 50% gains this year. Still digesting the messy Cyprus situation, the Dow ended down 33 points, or 0.2%, to finish at 14,526.
Only a third of blue-chip stocks rose today, and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) led all outperformers with gains of 1.7%. Though the sweeping changes in health care set to take place as a result of the Affordable Care Act haven't fully taken place yet, investors hope that the larger pool of people with insurance will help providers like UnitedHealth. On top of that, the stock has some momentum behind it: It's up more than 6% in the last month.
Still reeling from the fiscal concerns emanating from Europe, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) finished 1.8% lower, to mark the third consecutive day where a financial ranks at the bottom of the Dow. But fears of being dragged down by foreign happenings aren't the only thing holding JPMorgan back. The company's also facing scrutiny from Washington, as investigations about everything from the Madoff scheme to rogue traders plague the bank.
Elsewhere, shares of Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB) added 3.2% as Wall Street cheered news that the company's new multiple sclerosis won FDA approval. The drug, Tecfidera, is projected to be the top oral treatment for MS, putting annual U.S. sales between $240 million and $300 million by some estimates.
While it's been a remarkable year for the market as a whole, the same can't be said for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), which is down 15% since New Year's Day and slipped another 2% to fall for a second straight day, as a Pacific Crest Securities analyst cut projections for second-quarter sales and EPS on tempered expectations for the iPad. While as recently as last fall we saw investors drooling about the tech giant's prospects, today's cautious outlook on Apple advises that it may be "attractive for investors with lower return requirements."
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