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FirstAlert(tm) Daily 1/22: Uppers And Downers

- Market Commentary -

January 22, 2010 (FinancialWire) (By Bob Farley) — Health-care companies showed interesting moves Thursday, with the health insurance company Humana (NYSE: HUM) up almost a percentage point. Drug makers Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Merck (NYSE: MRK) were off more than 2%. Hospital operator Tenet Healthcare (NYSE: THC) was down 3.5%.

All these changes operated on the backdrop of darkening news in China, concerning tightening money policies, not to mention a general sell-off that saw U.S. markets off between 1% and 2%. China is becoming the basket that a lot of people are putting their eggs into. Therefore any mention of slowing money flow causes a collective investor blood pressure increase. Everybody needs a little stress to be healthy, though. Right?

President Obama’s announcement that certain funds might become off limits to banks caused a lot of sweaty brows and worries over where next year’s giant bonuses could be squeezed from. And the plan isn’t even close to hatching; so far, it’s only an announcement.

Back to insurance, Humana was one of the 22% of NYSE companies that gained. Nobody is threatening its operations with changes. Many have tried–even presidents of nations. Insurance laughs.

Drug makers have a variety of reasons for being off; one is that it’s unlikely that more people will be getting insurance. In fact, the opposite is more the case. And in that case, fewer people will be able to get the drugs they need. Especially the higher priced, non-generic ones.

Hospital operators? No change there, but unlike insurers, that’s not good. The number of uninsured getting free help increases; the number of lawsuits trying to force money from the uninsured who might have a house with a lien on it and a job to squeeze goes up, while the goodwill of the hospital plummets. They could almost start wearing the black top hat and Snidely Whiplash moustache of silent movies villains.

[Go to to see more commentaries and articles by Bob Farley.]

FirstAlert(tm) Website of the Day:

Quote of the Day: “If Moses had gone to Harvard Law School and spent three years working on the Hill, he would have written The Ten Commandments with three exceptions and a saving clause.” Charles Morgan

Today is: Answer Your Cat’s Question Day, Roe vs. Wade Day

Happy Birthday: Sir Francis Bacon, Lord George Gordon Byron, Sir Robert Bruce Cotton, Richard Blackmore, D. W. Griffith, Charles Morgan, Ann Sothern, U Thant, Sam Cooke, Bill Bixby, Graham Kerr.

Today in History: Emperor Charles V opened the Diet of Worms in 1521. Spain ceded Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to England in 1771. Arthur Tooth, an Anglican clergyman was taken into custody in 1877 after being prosecuted for using ritualist practices. Columbia Phonograph was formed in Washington, DC, in 1889. Sir Isaac Isaacs was sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia in 1931. The first commercial jet plane, the BOAC’s Comet, was put into service in 1952.

[FirstAlert(tm) was created by Gayle Essary, founder of Investrend Communications, Inc., parent of Investrend Information. The opinions expressed in FirstAlert(tm) do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Investrend.]

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