MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Retreats As Health-care, Consumer-staples Shares Slump

By Mark DeCambre and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Nasdaq tips higher, sets new intraday high

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U.S. stocks on Monday traded mostly lower at the open, weighed by a slump in health-care and consumer-staples shares, but the technology sector extended gains, pushing deeper into record territory.

Meanwhile, investors digested news that Paul Manafort, who was President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, and his former business associates, Rick Gates, were told to surrender (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ex-trump-campaign-manager-manafort-surrenders-to-fbi-in-russia-probe-2017-10-30), representing the first charges in a special counsel investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election led by Robert Mueller.

What are stocks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 21 points, or 0.1%, to 23,412, weighed by components Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK), Home Depot Inc. (HD), and 3M Co. (MMM). Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index fell 2 points, or 0.1%, to 2,578.

The Nasdaq Composite Index set a fresh intraday record and was most recently trading up 23 points, or 0.4%, at 6,724.

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite, closed at records on Friday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-microsoft-alphabet-set-to-power-nasdaq-higher-after-blowout-results-2017-10-27), after Amazon.com Inc.(AMZN), and Microsoft Corp.(MSFT) results, among others. The Dow added 33.33 points, or 0.1%, at 23,434.19.

What could drive the markets?

Investors will also be awaiting Trump's decision on who will lead the Fed after Chairwoman Janet Yellen's term expires in February. A report Friday said Trump is leaning toward choosing Fed Gov. Jerome Powell (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-leaning-toward-appointing-powell-to-fed-report-2017-10-27).

Meanwhile, the Fed meets Tuesday and Wednesday. No changes to monetary policy are expected, but the statement at the conclusion of the meeting will be closely watched for clues on whether policy makers intend to go ahead with a widely expected December increase in interest rates. Bank of Japan and Bank of England also will have monetary policy meetings.

Read: Manafort told to surrender to federal authorities: report (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/manafort-told-to-surrender-to-federal-authorities-report-2017-10-30)

Beyond central banks, any further developments on U.S. tax reforms will hold investor attention. Republicans expect to unveil a much-awaited bill to overhaul the tax code Wednesday. The National Association of Home Builders is set to offer opposition (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-republicans-tax-overhaul-bill-to-be-opposed-by-home-builder-trade-group-2017-10-29).

What are the data?

Consumer spending leapt 1% in September, the biggest gain since early mid-2009, just as the current economic recovery got under way. Personal income rose 0.4%, but the savings rate fell to 3.1%, the lowest level since December 2007.

The personal-consumption-expenditure index, or PCE, the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge, increased 0.4% in September, while the closely followed "core" rate, that strips out food and energy, rose 0.1%.

Read:Apple engineer reportedly fired over daughter's viral video of iPhone X (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/apple-engineer-reportedly-fired-over-daughters-viral-video-of-iphone-x-2017-10-29)

Also read: Why stock-market bulls should be wary of rising tide of earnings shenanigans (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-stock-market-bulls-should-be-wary-of-rising-tide-of-earnings-shenanigans-2017-10-28)

What are analysts saying?

"The direct connection to Trump was the key. And, at this moment, there is none," said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group, referring to news of Manafort's indictment. Cox said investors have been bullish on Trump's pro-growth agenda and anything seen as derailing that could be a negative for markets.

"Financial markets have begun a key week of economic data and central bank decisions with a cautious tone today. In the coming days there will be some key risk events with a series of major central banks announcing monetary policy, including the Fed, the Bank of Japan and a potential historic rate hike from the Bank of England," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.

Check out:Fed statement may have treats for the hawks and the doves (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-statement-may-have-treats-for-both-hawks-and-doves-2017-10-27)

Opinion:Trump-Ryan tax plan will encourage more corporate offshore tax avoidance (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-ryan-tax-plan-will-encourage-more-corporate-offshore-tax-avoidance-2017-10-24)

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of CalAtlantic Group Inc.(CAA) soared 22% after the home builder said it plans to merge with peer Lennar Corp (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/home-builders-lennar-calatlantic-to-merge-in-9-billion-deal-2017-10-30).(LEN) in a deal worth about $9.3 billion, including $3.6 billion in assumed net debt. Lennar shares slipped 2.3%.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.(WMT) fell 1.8%. The head of the company's U.K. chain Asda, Sean Clarke (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ceo-of-wal-marts-uk-chain-asda-to-leave-at-end-of-year-2017-10-30), will leave his post on Dec. 31 and will be followed by Roger Burnley.

Dynegy Inc.(DYN) jumped 13% after the energy company said it is merging with Vista Energy in a deal that would value the combined entities at more than $10 billion.

Akzo Nobel NV(AKZOY) (AKZOY) and U.S. rival Axalta Coating Systems Ltd. (AXTA) said they are in talks to merge (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/akzo-nobel-axalta-confirm-merger-talks-2017-10-30) (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/akzo-nobel-axalta-confirm-merger-talks-2017-10-30). Akzo Nobel shares rose 0.7% in Amsterdam, while Axalta shares declined by 1.5%.

Shares of Huntsman Corp.(HUN) rose 2%. Activist U.S. investors, who helped scuttle a proposed merger between Huntsman and Swiss chemicals company Clariant (CLN.EB), said they would try to seek a seat on Clariant's board of directors and push for more changes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/activist-investors-seek-clariant-board-seat-2017-10-30).

U.S.-listed shares of HSBC Holdings PLC(HSBA.LN) fell 1.2% even after the bank said it swung to a third-quarter net profit of $3.24 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hsbc-holdings-swings-to-324-billion-profit-2017-10-30).

What are other markets doing?

The ICE Dollar Index was down 0.2% to 94.676, with slight losses against the euro .

And:Is the euro rally toast after ECB unveils dovish bond-buying cutback? (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/is-the-euro-rally-toast-after-ecb-unveils-dovish-bond-buying-reduction-2017-10-26)

Oil prices were rising (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/brent-pushes-further-above-60-as-oil-rally-continues-2017-10-30), up 21 cents, or less than 0.4%, to $54.12 a barrel, while gold (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-clings-to-narrow-gain-as-strong-dollar-pauses-its-climb-2017-10-30) was modestly higher, up 0.1% at $1,272.90 an ounce.

Stocks in Europe opened flat, but Spanish stocks rallied 1.5%. Spain's central government is taking control of Catalonia after removing the region's president Carles Puigdemont and calling for new elections on Dec. 21 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/spain-seizes-power-as-tension-mounts-in-independence-bent-catalonia-2017-10-28). (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/spain-seizes-power-as-tension-mounts-in-independence-bent-catalonia-2017-10-28) Hundreds of thousands of pro-unity demonstrators rallied in Catalonia on Sunday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/hundreds-of-thousands-of-pro-unity-demonstrators-rally-in-catalonia-2017-10-29).

Stocks in Asia finishedmostly fell (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-rally-thanks-to-tech-stock-gains-2017-10-29), with Chines stocks dented in part by a bond selloff.

--Sara Sjolin contributed to this article

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 30, 2017 10:44 ET (14:44 GMT)