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US: S&P 500, Dow edge up; tech weighs on Nasdaq

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[NEW YORK] The S&P 500 and the Dow barely rose on Monday as gains were offset by a fall in technology stocks, which pushed the Nasdaq lower as investors turned to more defensive sectors.

The slow-growing, high-dividend S&P utilities and telecommunications were the best performers among the 11 S&P sectors.

Technology was the weakest sector, with a 0.6 per cent decline. The sector been under pressure recently due to stretched valuations.

"The bond market is signalling an economic slowing," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

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"That's why you're seeing defensive names like utilities do well, because equity investors are buying more in line with what that bond market is saying."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 14.79 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 21,409.55, the S&P 500 lost 0.77 point, or 0.03 per cent, to 2,439.07 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.10 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 6,247.15.

A fall in Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet weighed most on the S&P 500, as well as on the Nasdaq.

"It's simply profit-taking going into the end of the quarter. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see that reversed in early July with the thought that we're going to see some strong earnings," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.

The utilities sector was the S&P's best performer, with a 0.8 per cent rise, while the four-company telecommunications services sector index was next with a 0.6 per cent gain.

"If people are coming out of tech the money just rotates into the other sectors. There's not much driving the tape as there's not much news out there," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The S&P energy ended 0.2 per cent lower as gains in oil prices were limited by rising crude supply in the United States and other countries.

A recent drop in oil prices has spurred concerns about low inflation, which remains below the Federal Reserve's 2 per cent target rate.

The Fed raised rates this month for the second time this year and has indicated it could raise them again. But futures imply only a 50 per cent chance of another rate hike by December.

The S&P financial index rose 0.5 per cent after New York Fed President William Dudley and San Francisco Fed President John Williams generally brushed off weak data and stuck by their plans to keep hiking rates.

Monday's data showed new orders for US-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in May, with non-defence orders excluding aircraft - a closely watched proxy for business spending plans - dropping 0.2 per cent.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 0.3 per cent.

Shares in Hertz Global Holdings closed up 13.5 per cent at US$10.83 after a report that Apple Inc is leasing a small fleet of cars from the rental company to test self-driving technology. Apple shares ended 0.3 per cent lower.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.88-to-one ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.19-to-one ratio favoured advancers.

About 6.42 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges compared with the 7.2 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

REUTERS

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