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Health care stocks tumble as stock market hits records

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While the major U.S. stock indexes hit all-time highs Tuesday, health care stocks traded lower on disappointing earnings and gave back some of a post-election relief rally that had lifted the sector.

"Medtronic certainly had a pretty tough quarter and [is] driving down medical devices" stocks, said Mike Bailey, director of research and chair of FBB Capital Partners, which has a "very small" position in the stock.

He attributed Tuesday's decline in health stocks broadly to a pullback after recent gains, and some uncertainty on the effect of President-elect Donald Trump's health care policies.

Medtronic shares plunged more than 8 percent after the company reported disappointing quarterly revenue and cut earnings guidance for the fiscal year ending April 2017. The stock was the second-worst performer in the S&P 500 health care sector, followed by Endo International, a specialty pharmaceutical company.

Patterson Companies was the worst performer in the S&P 500 health care sector, shedding more than 16 percent on Tuesday.

The stock hit its lowest since April 2013 after reporting fiscal second quarter earnings per share that missed expectations, and fiscal year non-GAAP earnings in a range of $2.25 to $2.35 per diluted share, well below forecasts of $2.64 a share.

The Dow Jones industrial average, S&P 500, Nasdaq composite and Russell 2000 traded higher at record levels for a second day in a row, with telecoms climbing 2 percent to lead eight S&P 500 sectors higher.

The S&P 500 health care sector briefly fell 2 percent and was the worst performing S&P 500 sector on Tuesday.

Health care had been one of the better performing sectors since the election, up more than 2 percent between Election Day and Monday's close, as Trump's win eased concerns about heavy scrutiny on drug price controls.

Separately on Tuesday, CFRA Research on Tuesday lowered its rating on the sector to "marketweight" from "overweight."

"We expect investors to gravitate toward more cyclical sectors as a result of a projected increase in defense and infrastructure spending under the new Republican administration," Sam Stovall, chief investment officer at CFRA Research, said in a note.