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US: Nasdaq, tech shine as earnings pick up; Dow, S&P lag

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[NEW YORK] The Nasdaq hit a record high on Monday ahead of a big week of technology earnings reports, while the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials lagged behind as losses in healthcare heavyweight Johnson & Johnson took a toll.

The major US indexes are trading around record-high levels with a huge batch of second-quarter corporate reports due this week.

After the market closed, shares of Google parent Alphabet, one of the high-flying "Fang" stocks, traded down 2.2 per cent following the company's quarterly report and dragged on Nasdaq 100 futures.

The company's report will be critical for supporting the run for the tech sector, which has outperformed all major groups this year.

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"The tech sector is the leading sector so far this year," said John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington Bank in Columbus, Ohio.

"It's going to be important that those Fang stocks set a positive tone and give positive guidance."

Of the other Fang stocks, Netflix issued well-received results last week, and Amazon and Facebook are set to report later this week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66.9 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 21,513.17, the S&P 500 lost 2.63 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 2,469.91 and the Nasdaq Composite added 23.05 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6,410.81.

Tech and financials were the only two of the 11 major S&P sectors to finish in positive territory.

Johnson & Johnson shares ended down 1.7 per cent, the biggest weight on the S&P 500 and the Dow. J&J faces discounted competition to its big-selling rheumatoid arthritis drug.

The market's run to record highs, including a 10.4 per cent rise for the S&P 500 in 2017, has left equities relatively expensive and investors counting on earnings to justify the valuations. The S&P 500 is trading at around 17.7 times earnings estimates for the next 12 months, well above their long-term average of 15 times.

With more than one-fifth of the S&P 500 having reported results, earnings are now expected to have climbed 8.8 per cent in the second quarter, up from a projection of an 8-per cent rise at the start of the month, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

This week alone, 190 S&P 500 companies are expected to report quarterly results.

"There is a lot of earnings coming out this week, so some people may just be sitting on the sidelines with a wait-and-see approach," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"There's a lot of anticipation about this earnings season."

In other earnings news, Halliburton shares fell 4.2 per cent after the oilfield services provider warned about flattening growth in North American rig count.

Hasbro shares slumped 9.4 per cent after the toymaker's quarterly results.

Hibbett Sports tumbled 33.5 per cent after the sporting goods retailer's second-quarter sales warnings. The stock weighed on other sports retailers such as Dick's Sporting , Foot Locker and Finish Line.

Investors are also looking ahead to the Federal Reserve's post-meeting statement due on Wednesday for clues about the future path of interest rate hikes.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.27-to-one ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-one ratio favoured advancers.

About 5.5 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, below the 6.1 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

REUTERS

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