S&P 500 struggles for direction as regional banks rebound, but health care weighs

June 6, 2023 2:23 PM EDT -- The S&P 500 struggled for direction Tuesday as a slip in health care stocks kept gains in checks following renewed investor appetite for regional banking stocks.

The S&P 500 was flat, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, or 91 points lower, and the Nasdaq gained 0.2%.

Financials were the top performing sector on the day, led by regional banks including U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB), Zions Bancorporation (NASDAQ: ZION) and East West Bancorp (NASDAQ: EWBC) as investors appear keen to buy into the weakness seen in the spring.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL), meanwhile, helped push tech stocks higher though Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) continued to trade in the red after unveiling its Vision Pro headsets on Monday.

The higher-than-expected price of $3,499 for the headset could limit adoption and any meaningful boost to revenue in the near term, according to UBS

“[W]ith a starting price of $3,499, roughly $500 above our expectations and an availability date in early 2024, we estimate the impact over the next 12-18 months will likely be no more than 1%-2% of total revenue,” UBS added.

Health stocks were pressured by a slump in Elevance Health Inc (NYSE: ELV), Merck (NYSE: MRK) and Illumina Inc (NASDAQ: ILMN), with the latter down more than 4% as it continues its fight with regulators to save the deal to acquire cancer startup Grail.

Illumina Inc (NASDAQ: ILMN) on Monday appealed against a Federal Trade Commission order that demanded the company to unwind its $7 billion acquisition of Grail.

In crypto-related news, the regulatory heat turned up a notch as the SEC filed a lawsuit against Coinbase Global (NASDAQ: COIN) accusing the cryptocurrency platform of breaking U.S. regulations, sending its shares more than 11% lower.

The move comes just a day after the SEC sued Binance, alleging multiple security violations including misappropriating customer funds.

Cryptocurrencies, however, sidestepped the regulatory worries as Bitcoin (BitfinexUSD), ETH/USD and XRP led the broader crypto move higher.

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