* Healthcare legislation heads to Senate after narrow
* Energy stocks tumble as oil falls 5 pct
* Regeneron, Zoetis up after earnings; Tesla drops
* Dow down 0.05 pct, S&P up 0.06 pct, Nasdaq up 0.05 pct
(Updates with late afternoon trading)
By Lewis Krauskopf
May 4 U.S. stock indexes were little changed on
Thursday as a steep fall for the energy sector countered some
solid earnings reports, with Wall Street remaining flat after
the U.S. House of Representatives passed major healthcare
The House on Thursday afternoon narrowly voted to repeal
major portions of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as
Obamacare, and replace it with a Republican healthcare plan,
sending it to the Senate for consideration.
The bill's passage comes after House Republicans pulled
healthcare legislation earlier this year in a setback, raising
questions among investors about President Donald Trump's ability
to enact his agenda.
The benchmark S&P 500 has gained 11.6 percent since Trump's
election, fueled by his plans for tax cuts, infrastructure
spending and deregulation.
"The real risk in the near term to the so-called Trump rally
was a failure to pass it," said Rick Meckler, president of
LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"I don’t know if this market is really that focused on
healthcare as the big issue," Meckler said. "I think they’re
really focused on the tax plan. If they couldn’t pass the
healthcare, it would bode very poorly for the tax plan."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11.35 points,
or 0.05 percent, to 20,946.55, the S&P 500 gained 1.33
points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,389.46 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 3.24 points, or 0.05 percent, to 6,075.79.
The energy sector dropped 1.9 percent, easily the
worst performing group. Exxon Mobil's 1.4-percent
decline and Chevron's 2.1-percent drop weighed on the
Oil prices tumbled about 5 percent on signs that OPEC and
other producing countries would not take more drastic steps to
reduce the world's stubbornly persistent glut of crude.
Investors were digesting the Federal Reserve's statement on
Wednesday. The central bank left rates unchanged but downplayed
weak first-quarter economic growth while emphasizing the strong
labor market, in a sign it was still on track for two more rate
rises this year.
Focus was turning to Friday's U.S. employment report as the
next gauge of the economy and labor market. Data on Thursday
showed new applications for U.S. jobless benefits fell sharply
last week and the number of Americans on unemployment rolls hit
a 17-year low.
"I think there's a wait-and-see attitude with regards to
the government employment report after the big miss last month,"
said Bill Lynch, director of investments at Hinsdale Associates,
in Hinsdale, Illinois.
"Based on what the Fed said yesterday in their comments,
they're pretty confident growth will pick up, so I imagine that
would include a fairly strong labor number as well."
In corporate news, Tesla was down 4.5 percent after
the electric automaker's quarterly net loss widened.
In the healthcare sector, Regeneron rose 6.6
percent and Zoetis rose 6 percent after their respective
Earnings season has come in generally above expectations,
encouraging investors. First-quarter profits at S&P 500
companies are estimated to have increased 14.8 percent, the
strongest since 2011, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.93-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.25-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 46 new 52-week highs and 13 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 97 new highs and 66 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Herb Lash and Sinead Carew in New York
and Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and