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S&P 500 Nears Record High as Defensive Stocks Shine

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By Yasin Ebrahim

Investing.com – The S&P 500 advanced Wednesday to close in on record highs, with defensive corners of the market such as utilities and health care leading the broader market advance.

The S&P 500 was up 0.64% to trade close to its all-time high of 4,545.85 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.4%, or 153 points to close in on its all-time high of 35,669.69. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.10%.

Utilities were up more than 1%, led by United Rentals (NYSE:URI), Jacobs Engineering (NYSE:J) and Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT).

Health care was pushed by positive quarterly results, with Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) rallying more than 6% after delivering third-quarter results that topped Wall Street estimates.

Anthem reported Q3 adjusted earnings per share of $6.79 on revenue of $35.82 billion, compared with analysts' estimates for EPS of $6.37 on revenue of $35.35 billion.

Cigna (NYSE:CI) and Centene (NYSE:CNC) were the other leaders in health care.

Elsewhere on the earnings front, United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) reported better-than-expected adjusted quarterly results, underpinned by an ongoing recovery in international and business travel. Its shares were flat.

In tech, meanwhile, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) fell more 1% after Deutsche Bank (DE:DBKGn) downgraded the stock following the streaming giant's third-quarter results released late-Tuesday,

Deutsche bank downgraded Netflix to hold from buy, on expectations that a "4Q subscriber beat is already more than priced into the stock."

PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) has reportedly explored a bid for Pinterest (NYSE:PINS) that valued the social media company at about $39 billion, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. Pinterest jumped 13%, while PayPal fell 6%.

Energy lagged the broader move higher, even as oil prices were boosted by data showing an unexpected fall in weekly U.S. crude stockpiles.

U.S. crude stocks fell by 431,000 barrels for the week ended Oct.17, confounding expectations for a 1.9 million barrel increase.

In others news, Bitcoin eclipsed its prior all-time high of $64,778, as optimism over the outlook on the crypto has been boosted by the launch of the first futures-based bitcion ETF on Tuesday.

Shares of Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) Global, Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ:RIOT), and Marathon Digital were higher.

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