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US: Wall Street slips as energy, financials lose ground
[NEW YORK] US stocks inched lower on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 retreating slightly from a record, as weakness in the energy and financial sectors outweighed gains in technology shares.
Oil prices fell to keep US crude below the US$50 a barrel mark on concerns output cuts by the world's big exporters may not be sufficient to lessen a global glut and signs of resurgent output in Libya.
The energy sector's 1.31 per cent fall made it the worst performer among the major S&P 500 sectors. Exxon was down 0.6 per cent.
Financial stocks, down 0.8 per cent, also supplied some downward pressure. JPMorgan fell 1.7 per cent and Bank of America lost 1.4 per cent as the two biggest drags on the S&P 500.
US consumer spending recorded its biggest increase in four months in April and monthly inflation rebounded, pointing to firming domestic demand that could allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.
"The markets are susceptible to geopolitical and to purely political risk, but in terms of the economy and in terms of earnings, we are where investors are comfortable," said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group in New York.
"There isn't a huge rush to put more money into equities, there isn't a huge rush to put more money into Treasuries - the market is treading water."
Dallas Fed head Robert Kaplan told CNBC that while he was concerned about the recent economic data, he expected two more rate hikes in 2017.
Fed Governor Lael Brainard said a hike is probably coming soon, though the central bank may want to delay if inflation remains soft.
Traders currently see an 86.6 per cent chance of a quarter-point rate hike by the Fed at its June meeting, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 50.81 points, or 0.24 per cent, to 21,029.47, the S&P 500 lost 2.91 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 2,412.91 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.01 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 6,203.19.
The technology sector rose 0.31 per cent, boosted by gains in Apple and Microsoft, both up 0.6 per cent.
Amazon was up 0.1 per cent at US$996.70, after briefly crossing the US$1,000 mark. Alphabet's Class A shares were close behind, hitting a record of US$997.62 before ending the session up 0.3 per cent at US$996.17.
Telecoms jumped, up 1.4 per cent, after MoffettNathanson upgraded the sector to "neutral" from "underweight", citing a lack of negative near-term catalysts.
CardConnect's shares jumped 10.3 per cent to US$15.05 after First Data agreed to buy the payment processor for US$750 million. First Data closed up 1.1 per cent.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.58-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.87-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 28 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 82 new highs and 70 new lows.
About 5.68 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, below the 6.69 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.