The market is having a bad day so far: the Nasdaq has slipped 1.6%; the S&P 500 is trading down 1%; and the Dow is down 1.1%. The healthcare sector is the category of stocks relating to medical and healthcare goods or services. This sector includes hospital management firms, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), biotechnology and a variety of medical products. Stocks in the healthcare sector are often considered to be defensive because the products and services are essential. Even during economic downturns, people will still require medical aid and medicine to overcome illness. Having a consistent demand for goods and services makes this sector less sensitive to business cycle fluctuations.

The Healthcare sector (XLV) is down 0.9%, outperforming the market overall. Currently, the biggest movers in the sector are:

Company Market Cap Percentage Change
Cubist Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:CBST) $3.02 billion -3.7%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:VRTX) $11.36 billion -3.2%
Pharmacyclics (Nasdaq:PCYC) $4.76 billion -3.1%
MWI Veterinary Supply (Nasdaq:MWIV) $1.34 billion -3%
Amgen (Nasdaq:AMGN) $69.21 billion -2.2%
Celgene (Nasdaq:CELG) $33.86 billion -2.2%
Alexion Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:ALXN) $21.95 billion -1.9%

Broker Summary: Charles Schwab Online Brokerage

Cubist Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:CBST) has fallen 3.7% and is currently trading at $45.49 per share. At 556,051 shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.7 times the average daily volume.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:VRTX) is down 3.2% to reach $50.94 per share. The company is trading at a volume of 1.4 million shares.

Pharmacyclics (Nasdaq:PCYC) is trading at $66.22 per share, down 3.1%. The company's volume is currently 204,712 shares for the day, in keeping with its current three-month average.

After a decline of 3%, MWI Veterinary Supply (Nasdaq:MWIV) has hit a share price of $101.86. The company is currently trading a volume of 45,619 shares.

Amgen (Nasdaq:AMGN) has decreased to $87.79 per share, a 2.2% fall. At 2.2 million shares, the company's volume so far today is 0.7 times its current daily average.

Falling 2.2%, Celgene (Nasdaq:CELG) is currently at a share price of $76.78. So far today, the company's volume is 1.1 million shares.

Slipping 1.9%, Alexion Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:ALXN) is currently trading at $111.56 per share. With 710,652 shares changing hands so far today, the company's volume is 0.8 times the current three-month average.

The Bottom Line On any given day, a particular stock may see positive or negative change in its share price. Daily stock performance should be weighed against historical performance and put in context of the market overall. Tools like valuation ratios and profit margins, however, are only as useful as the context you put them in; remember to take historical data and competitor performance into account.

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