Wall Street edges down as healthcare, utility stocks fall

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Nirmal Bang Commodities in a research note said, "We expect prices to trade range bound for the day, by not far from over one-week highs hit the session before, remaining on course for their first weekly rise in three".

A victory for Wilders's party "may cause the euro to give back more of the gains it posted following the recent European Central Bank meeting, and in combination with a rate hike by the Fed, it could push euro/dollar gradually lower for another test near the key 1.0500 territory", he said.

Sydney ticked up 0.2 percent and Singapore was 0.8 percent higher, while there were also big gains in Wellington, Taipei, Jakarta and Manila. On Thursday the metal hit $1,233.13 US, its highest since March 6. After the United Kingdom vote last summer to leave the European Union, investors were anxious about whether a wave of nationalism across the continent could eventually break the European union apart.

Across the Atlantic, European stocks rose on Thursday after far-right candidate Geert Wilders was defeated in a closely watched Dutch election, pouring cold water on fears that a populist wave was sweeping the continent.

The U.S. central bank raised rates on Wednesday as expected, but left its earlier forecast of three rate increases this year unchanged, disappointing some investors who had hoped for hints of a possible fourth hike in 2017.

With the steep drop, the ten-year yield continued to give back ground after reaching its highest closing level in well over two years on Monday.

London was helped by the British unemployment rate striking a 41-year low, while Frankfurt and Paris also posted small gains at the close.

White House, some conservatives agree on health care changes
That's because 216 backers will be needed for passage if all 430 now sitting House members show up and vote on the bill. Dean Heller, R-Nev., who faces re-election next year, became the fourth Republican senator to announce his opposition.

The Fed on Wednesday lifted benchmark interest rates by a quarter-point as widely expected.

US President Donald Trump's failure so far to push through promised economic stimulus measures may have influenced the Fed, said Tom Kendall at ICBC Standard Bank.

The dollar index recovered all its losses since the close of US trade to stand roughly steady earlier in the day at 100.59., but lost momentum and fell to 100.41.

A sharp recovery in the oil price provided most of the impetus, boosting energy stocks.

The index was down nearly 1 percent overall for the week and 1.2 percent since the Fed hiked rates on Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, rose 0.71 points, or 0.01 percent, to 5,900.76.

CURRENCIES: The euro from dipped to $1.0746 from $1.0749 late Thursday, and the British pound fell to $1.2367 from $1.2358. The number of workers filing for state unemployment benefits declined 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 241,000 in the week ended March 11, the Labor Department said Thursday.