May 11, 2018 / 3:59 PM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher on healthcare gains

* Trump expected to speak at 2 pm on drug pricing

* Symantec slides on probe Nvidia drops after results Indexes: Dow up 0.33 pct, S&P up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq flat (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

May 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Friday as healthcare shares rose ahead of President Donald Trump’s speech on curbing prescription drug costs that is seen as largely sparing the industry.

Trump is expected to address the high prices set by drugmakers, rising costs for consumers and barriers to negotiating lower prices for seniors in the government’s Medicare program.

However, health industry sources briefed on the plans expect the policy proposals to have a relatively modest impact on the healthcare system, Reuters reported.

The Nasdaq Biotechnology index jumped 1.3 percent, while the S&P healthcare index rose 0.6 percent and was the biggest boost to the broader index.

“Trump’s speech really hasn’t had much of an impact on pharma or biotech thus far,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in Boston.

Trump is also set to meet the heads of 10 major automakers, including those from General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, at the White House to discuss the fate of landmark fuel efficiency standards and a looming confrontation with California and other major states.

Shares of these companies were marginally lower.

At 11:22 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 82.21 points, or 0.33 percent, at 24,821.74, the S&P 500 was up 5.57 points, or 0.20 percent, at 2,728.64 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.23 points, or 0.02 percent, at 7,403.75.

The Dow edged above 100-day moving average for the first time since April 18, following the S&P’s similar move a day earlier, suggesting that the market may move higher.

“Stock market is the best predictor of economic activity. It’s natural that we have volatility, modest corrections, but the upward trend is still going to be intact,” said Tom Plumb, president and chief investment officer of Plumb Funds in Madison, Wisconsin.

Verizon rose 3.1 percent after JPMorgan upgraded the wireless carrier to “overweight”, saying 5G opportunity will start to crystallize in next few months.

The tech sector came under pressure from a set of disappointing results.

Nvidia, the best performing chip stock this year, fell 0.9 percent after revenue from its closely watched data center business disappointed investors.

The results weighed on shares of other chipmakers. Advanced Micro Devices was down 1.8 percent.

Symantec Corp slumped 35 percent after the Norton Antivirus maker said it was investigating concerns raised by a former employee.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.69-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.50-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 27 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 111 new highs and 32 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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