Late Movers: Merck drops after downgrade from BMO Capital Markets

Airlines including American and Southwest enjoyed a lift from better-than-expected results

Merck & Co was a market laggard after it was downgraded by BMO Capital Markets to Market Perform from Outperform

The big drug companies took a beating Thursday, with Merck & Co Inc (NYSE:MRK) the biggest loser among the blue chips after it was downgraded by BMO Capital Markets to Market Perform from Outperform.

The stock declined 3% to $73.17.

READ: Merck's 2Q earnings beat Street with sales turbocharged by cancer drug Keytruda

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) shares headed south as the drug company withdrew an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for a blockbuster cancer drug combination to allow it to collect more data. It posted a quarterly beat on earnings and revenue.

Shares fell 1.8% to $49.02.

Airlines flew into focus, with Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) advancing after beating fourth-quarter estimates. Net income fell to $654 million, or $1.17 per share, from $1.75 billion, or $2.94 per share, a year earlier. But analysts on average had expected a quarterly profit of $1.07 per share.

The stock added 6.3% to $54.22.

JetBlue Airways Corp (NASDAQ:JBLU) rose after posting quarterly operating revenue of $1.97 billion against consensus of $1.96 billion. Revenue per available seat mile was up 2.4%.

The shares added 5.1% to $18.12.

American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) gained on fourth-quarter earnings per share of  $1.04, which topped analysts' estimate of $1.01. Revenue for the quarter came in at $10.94 billion, against the consensus estimate of $10.96 billion.

The stock added 6.4% to stand at $33.66.

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