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Healthcare 2nd-worst performer among S&P 500 sectors in July

The S&P 500 healthcare sector saw a negative total return of 1.6% in July, making it the second-lowest performing sector when compared to the overall S&P 500 Index, which recorded a gain of 1.4% in the market, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Communication Services stock led the gains in the S&P 500 Index in July with a total return of 3.4%, while S&P 500 Energy was the worst-performing sector with a negative total return of 1.8%.

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Universal Health Services Inc. was the only healthcare company among the top five performers on the S&P 500 index based on total gains for July. The King of Prussia, Pa.-based hospital management company saw a gain of 15.7%.

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Edwards Lifesciences Corp., an Irvine, Calif.-based healthcare equipment company that develops products for heart diseases and critical care, was the second-best performer in the healthcare sector on the S&P 500 index, with a return of 15.2%.

Of the 62 healthcare companies on the S&P 500 index as of the end of July, only five reported double-digit gains for the month. Other top performers in the healthcare sector were Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. and Perrigo Co. PLC with total returns of 14.8% and 13.4%, respectively.

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The three weakest stocks of the healthcare sector were also the worst performers on the S&P 500 for July. San Jose, Calif.-based Align Technology Inc. had the steepest negative return of 23.6%.

Nektar Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company that develops therapies for cancer and chronic pain, was the second-worst performer on the S&P 500 Index with a 20% negative return.

Meanwhile, Illumina Inc., Varian Medical Systems Inc. and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. saw losses of 18.7%, 13.8% and 13.5%, respectively.