Stocks end lower as health-care companies decline

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks closed lower on Wednesday, led by sharp declines in health-care companies as outrage over the steep price hikes for Mylan’s EpiPens escalates.

Trading remains quiet overall with many investors still on vacation. It was another below-average day of trading volume on the New York Stock Exchange.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 65.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 18,481.48. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 11.46 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,175.44 and the Nasdaq composite lost 42.38 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,217.69.

Major indexes were down slightly for most of the day, and the losses deepened as a late-day sell-off in drugmakers dragged the broader market lower. Mylan dropped $2.47, or 5.5 percent, to $43.15 after falling nearly 5 percent the day before.

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Outrage over Mylan’s price increases for its EpiPen product continues to grow. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton issued a statement Wednesday calling Mylan’s price increases “outrageous” and called for the company to reduce its prices for EpiPens immediately. She is the latest in a bipartisan group of politicians who have raised concerns about Mylan’s pricing.

EpiPens are medical devices designed to deliver adrenaline to a patient suffering from a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Allergy sufferers often have to carry more than one because they always need to be close by in case of an emergency. Mylan, which bought the rights to the product in 2007, has raised the price from roughly $100 for two pens to roughly $600.

Other biotechnology and drugmaker stocks also fell as investors anticipated that pressure over drug pricing practices could spread to other drugmakers. Vertex Pharmaceuticals fell $4.28, or 4.2 percent, to $96.71 and Allergan fell $9.94, or 3.9 percent, to $243.77.

Metals and mining stocks also took hefty losses following disappointing results from the European mining giant Glencore. The company reported a loss and continues to sell off billions in assets to pay down its massive debt load.

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Freeport-McMoRan slumped 90 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $11.08 and Newmont Mining lost $3.30, or 7.5 percent, to $39.85.

Stocks remain stuck in a narrow range, as they have over the last two weeks. Many traders are on vacation and with no economic data and very few company earnings being released, investors are hesitant to make big moves.

“Barring some unforeseen event, this will continue to be the pattern until after Labor Day,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade.

Investors are awaiting a speech Friday by Fed Chair Janet Yellen at an annual conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Fed is expected to hold off on raising interest rates at its September meeting, but Yellen’s comments will be dissected for clues on the likelihood and timing of a future hike.

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“The market has basically come to a standstill waiting for her,” Kinahan said.

Benchmark crude oil fell $1.33 to $46.77 a barrel while Brent crude, which is used to price oil internationally, fell 91 cents to $49.05 a barrel. The drop in crude prices did not have a negative effect on energy stocks, which fell less than the rest of the market.

In other energy commodities, heating oil fell less than 1 cent to $1.496 a gallon, wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $1.51 a gallon and natural gas rose 3.5 cents to $2.796 per thousand cubic feet.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.56 percent from 1.55 percent the day before. The dollar rose to 100.49 yen from 100.22 yen, while the euro fell to $1.1261 from $1.1305.

Precious and industrial metals futures closed lower. Gold lost $16.40 to $1,329.70 an ounce, silver fell 38 cents to $18.69 an ounce and copper gave up 4 cents to close at $2.09 a pound.