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    Arkansas Business: Stocks get boost after 3-day slump

    7:32 AM, Jan 8, 2014   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- The S&P 500 climbed the most in three weeks yesterday, led by gains for health care stocks as UnitedHealth Group, the nation's largest health insurer, and Johnson & Johnson both climbed on recommendations by brokerage firms.

    After three straight declines, the S&P 500 would have matched its worst opening of a year since 1978 had it closed lower for a fourth day.

    The stock market's slow start to 2014 has been a big change from last year's exceptional performance.

    Home sales down 2% in Arkansas

    The state Realtors Association reporting home sales down 2 percent in November compared to the same time last year.

    This, while the average price of those homes sold was up by just under 1 percent to about $151,000.

    The most sales activity in November took place in Benton, Pulaski, Washington, Saline and Faulkner counties.

    Benton County sales were down 5 percent; Pulaski County sales were down 8 percent.

    St. Vincent to buy own insurance

    Arkansas Business has learned that a deal is in the works for Catholic Health Initiatives, the parent company of St. Vincent Health System of Little Rock, to buy some or all of QualChoice of Little Rock.

    Details about the nature of a CHI purchase were unavailable Tuesday, and neither side would comment.

    But QualChoice CEO Michael Stock said St. Vincent is already shareholder of QualChoice, which is Arkansas-based health insurance carrier.

    Arkansas Insurance Commissioner Jay Bradford said a merger of the two would enhance the ability of QualChoice to write coverage for Arkansans and he would expect QualChoice to also sell insurance in other states because of ties to CHI.

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