Your Thursday Market Blip 11/19/15

Your Thursday Market Blip 11/19/15

Stocks today churned in light volume after yesterday’s big jump. The Dow closed off 4 points to 17,732. Markets were up yesterday amid strong indications of a Fed December rate hike.
Citing a slowdown in Obamacare exchange signups, health insurance giant UnitedHealth lowered its forward guidance sending shares lower in a heavy volume selloff. Last month, Uncle Sugar said the monthly premium rate of the benchmark insurance plan would increase 7.5% on average and today UnitedHealth CEO Stephen Hemsley issued a statement saying: “In recent weeks, growth expectations for individual participation have tempered industry wide……so we are taking this proactive step.” The company also noted it was “evaluating the viability of the exchange product segment to determine to what extent it will continue to serve the public exchanges.” In other words “we are loosing our #*+&@!” The NY Times also ran an article about how rising deductibles are making policies too expensive to use. While the ACA offers premium offsets, insurance companies have jacked deductibles on the back end and this double whammy appears to be resulting in fewer signups. It’s like buying a car that is too expensive to drive. Here in Washington State, Moda Health canceled all operations last month and was seeking a cash infusion to offset losses after mispricing exchange policies in 2014.
Strength from a rebounding housing market boosted the earnings of Lowe’s Home Improvement. The company posted a 36% increase in net income on the back of a 5% increase in sales. These numbers came in above estimates and the company expects the trends to continue as people are coming in more often and spending more when they do.
Oil prices continue to limp along. They are apparently getting ready for the “O-Limp-ics”. WTI crude is trading at $40.30 per barrel as the global oil glut weighs on prices. Some feel oil could fall further perhaps hitting $30 a barrel while others are calling for oil to hit $70 by late next year. It’s a battle of the gurus and only mister market know the answer. In the meantime energy related stocks are under pressure.