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Health-Care Stocks Lead S&P 500 for First Time in 15 Year

Health-care stocks are leading gains in U.S. equities this year for the first time since 1998 as companies cut costs and investors speculate an expansion of insurance programs will benefit hospitals and insurers.

Drugmakers, health insurers and biotechnology companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index have returned 12 percent in 2013, including reinvested dividends, the most among the 10 main groups. That’s the first time in 15 years that the industry has led over the first 79 days into a year. Analysts project profits will rebound from this year’s zero growth in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.