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Wednesday 15th of October 2008
July 27, 2006

Earnings reports help Wall Street


by Elaine Frei

Wall Street was higher at midday on Thursday despite major declines in the health insurance sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.7 percent higher at mid-session to 11,174.87, while the Nasdaq Composite had gained 0.5 percent to 2,081.01 and the S&P 500 was up by 0.4 percent to 1,272.92.

Semiconductors were higher, with National Semiconductor 4.8 percent higher to $22.55 and Broadcom gaining 4.9 percent to $23.04.

Cable tv provider Comcast added 5.3 percent to $34.25 after it reported that profits were up 7 percent in the second quarter and it upped its subscriber growth forecast for the year.

Symantec was up 10.3 percent to $17.42 even though the maker of anti-virus software reported that its profits were down by 52 percent in its first quarter, with operating expenses more than doubled. The gain came because the results were better than had been expected.

Health insurer Aetna dropped 19.8 percent to $32.03 on a 1 percent decline in earnings in the second quarter, but even more due to investor concerns about large claims on its Stop-Loss product. The rest of the sector was also lower. Cigna fell by 7.1 percent to $96.81, while Humana was 4.5 percent lower to $53.97 and United Healthcare dropped 4.2 percent to $48.43.

Dow Chemical was down 9.6 percent to $33.70 after it reported that second-quarter earnings were 19 percent lower because record revenues had been offset by higher prices for fuel.

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