NEW YORK (AP) — UnitedHealth Group, the health insurance company, will replace Kraft Foods in the Dow Jones industrial average, the most widely known barometer of the American stock market.

S&P Dow Jones Indices, which manages the Dow, said Friday that the change will take effect at the start of trading Sept. 24. It said the change reflected the growing importance of health care spending in the U.S. economy.

The change will not affect the level of the Dow, which ended Thursday at a four-year high and is closing in on a record. The formula used to calculate the Dow is recalibrated for each stock added and dropped.

The last change to the Dow was in June 2009, when Cisco Systems, the technology company, and Travelers, another insurer, were added. They replaced General Motors and Citigroup.

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