Wall St. retreats after S&P, Nasdaq hit record highs

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Wall St. retreats after S&P, Nasdaq hit record highs

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

U.S. stocks reversed course as some investors locked in gains after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs, with healthcare and industrial stocks leading the decliners.

While strong first-quarter earnings supported the indexes in the past few weeks, global geopolitical tensions and developments in Washington could unsettle the market’s record-setting spree.

Investors turned cautious after reports that President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia’s foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation.

The latest development could distract the Trump administration from its priorities such as tax reform, healthcare and simpler regulations.

The dollar index .DXY – which measures the greenback against six other major currencies – hit a six-month low, while prices of safe-haven gold rose.

“This kind of backdrop is very conducive to stock-pickers and that is helping drive idiosyncratic positions across markets,” said Matt Miskin, senior capital markets research analyst at John Hancock Investments in Boston, Massachusetts.

Home Depot’s (HD.N) first-quarter performance was a bright spot. The stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500 and the Dow with a 1.7 percent gain.

A report from the Federal Reserve showed U.S. factory output in April rose at its fastest clip in three years, supporting a view that economic growth was rebounding in the second quarter after a sluggish start to the year. [nTLAGGED9W]

“As long as we have growth, whether it is earnings or economic data, the markets are likely to be able to take such (political) headlines in stride,” Miskin said.

At 11:05 a.m. ET (1505 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 15.73 points, or 0.07 percent, at 20,966.21, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 3.09 points, or 0.13 percent, at 2,399.23 and the Nasdaq Composite index .IXIC was up 1.06 points, or 0.02 percent, at 6,150.73.

Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower. Healthcare .SPXHC was the top loser with a 0.5 percent decline.

Pfizer (PFE.N) was down 1.8 percent at $32.54 after Citigroup downgraded the drug developer’s stock to “sell” from “neutral”.

Staples (SPLS.O) was off 5 percent and was the top percentage loser on the S&P 500 after the office supplies retailer reported a decline in quarterly sales.

Akebia Therapeutics (AKBA.O) was up 15 percent at $14.85 after the drug developer entered into an agreement with Vifor Pharma Group, which also made a $50 million equity investment in the company.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,755 to 978. On the Nasdaq, 1,686 issues fell and 979 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 50 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 85 new highs and 40 new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
Published at Tue, 16 May 2017 15:45:25 +0000

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