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Health care stocks roar after J&J, UnitedHealth beat earnings

Traders look at screens on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Health care traders are happy. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The stock prices of health care companies shot up Tuesday after UnitedHealth Group and Johnson & Johnson, two of the industry's bellwethers, both posted Q3 earnings that exceeded expectations.

Between the lines: Some of the biggest gains accumulated to UnitedHealth and its health insurance peers. UnitedHealth said its insurance division paid out fewer dollars for medical care than projected, raising hope on Wall Street that other insurers were in the same boat.

Go deeper: Health care stocks aren't having a great year