The US markets settled mostly higher on Friday, as traders digested President Donald Trump's outline of his plan to reduce high drug prices, which he has previously described as a top priority for his administration. In remarks from the White House rose garden, Trump suggested the government was partly to blame for high drug prices but also criticized drug lobbyists and so-called middle men. Trump announced several steps his administration will take to reduce drug prices, including giving Medicare Part D plans better tools to negotiate discounts. Reports earlier in the day indicated Trump's reforms of Medicare will stop short of allowing the government to negotiate directly with drug makers. The president also indicated he would seek to increase competition in drug markets, develop new incentives for drug makers to lower list prices and develop options to lower patients' out-of-pocket spending.
On the economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing import prices increased by less than expected in the month of April. The Labor Department said import prices rose by 0.3 percent in April after edging down by a revised 0.2 percent in March. The street had expected import prices to climb by 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, the report said export prices increased by 0.6 percent in April after rising by 0.3 percent in March. Export prices had been expected to rise by another 0.3 percent. A separate report released by the University of Michigan showed consumer sentiment unexpectedly held steady in early May. The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for May came in at 98.8, unchanged from the final April reading. The street had expected the index to edge down to 98.5.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 91.64 points or 0.37 percent to 24,831.17 and the S&P 500 was up by 4.65 points or 0.17 percent to 2,727.72, while the Nasdaq was down by 2.09 points or 0.03 percent to 7402.88.