Health-care shares lift stocks after U.S. House passes health reform bill

08:26, March 23, 2010      

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Healthcare sector led Wall Street higher on Monday as the U.S. House passed the most sweeping health-care legislation in four decades.

Wall Street opened lower as concerns over the Greek debt problems weighed on the market and India's unexpected rate hike spurred fears that other countries may soon follow suit.

However, healthcare stocks lifted as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the health care bill on Sunday night, which removed uncertainties and could have a far-reaching impact on insurance and pharmaceutical sectors. The historic 938-billion- dollar health care reform bill will bring health insurers 32 million subsidized customers by 2019.

Meanwhile, stocks were also lifted after data showed manufacturing activity in the New York region continued to recover at a solid pace in March.

The New York Federal Reserve Bank said its manufacturing index slipped to 22.9 in March from 24.9 in February. However, the new orders index jumped 17 points to 25.4 while inventories climbed above zero for the first time since August 2008. What's more, the index for the number of employees rose to its highest level in more than two years.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said on Monday that the U.S. economy is starting to expand after its worst slump since the Great Depression.

"As the economy continues to grow, and as we continue to repair the damage, the economy will start creating jobs again," Geithner said at the White House.

However, "Americans are still suffering a great deal from the damage caused by this recession," he added.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 43.91, or 0.41 percent, to 10,785.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.91, or 0.51 percent, to 1,165.81 and the Nasdaq was up 20.99, or 0.88 percent, to 2,395.40.

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