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Wall Street slightly lower as healthcare stocks weigh

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By Yashaswini Swamynathan (Reuters) – U.S. stocks slipped on Thursday as declines in the healthcare sector outweighed gains in financial stocks. Biogen was the biggest drag on the health sector, after downgrades by Morgan Stanley and Leerink triggered a 5.1 percent decline in the stock. The S&P 500 healthcare index fell 0.95 percent, the biggest drop among the six other sectors that were in the red. Financial stocks were the biggest gainers, helped by better-than-expected data on the housing sector in February and a dip in weekly unemployment benefit numbers. The Fed raised rates by a quarter point to 0.75-1.00 percent on Wednesday, responding to continued strength in the labor market and a pick up in inflation. However, the central bank stuck to its outlook for two more rate hikes this year and three in 2018. “We saw some dramatic moves yesterday, so anything that was tied to the reflation trade got a bit pressured,” said Marcelle Daher, senior managing director, asset allocation at Manulife Asset Management in Boston, Massachusetts. “There is certainly the element of profit taking today.” At 10:56 a.m. ET (1456 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 6.94 points, or 0.03 percent, at 20,943.16, the S&P 500 was down 2.61 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,382.65 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.97 points, or 0.02 percent, at 5,901.02. Shares of Tesla rose 2.8 percent to $262.94 after the electric carmaker said it would raise about $1.15 billion as the company speeds up the launch of its Model 3 sedan. Oracle surged to a record high of $46.99 and was the top stock on the S&P after the business software maker issued a better-than-expected quarterly profit. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,629 to 1,166. On the Nasdaq, 1,658 issues rose and 957 fell. The S&P 500 index showed 49 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 128 new highs and 35 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva & Shri Navaratnam)

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