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Tech Swoon Counters Gains for Financials

Wall Street Reuters

U.S. stocks closed little changed on Monday after rising dramatically the week before and a decline in the technology sector offset a steep rise in financial stocks as investors bet on higher interest rates.

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After choppy trading late in the session, the Dow ended at a record high while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite dipped.

"I think all we're doing is trimming our sails a little from the violently positive rally we had post-election results last week," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has been under pressure since the Nov. 8 election as investors poured money into sectors such as financials, industrials and energy, which are seen benefiting from President-elect Donald Trump's policies.

The financial index rose 2.3 percent, with banks including Bank of America JPMorgan providing the biggest boost. The index has risen 10.8 percent since the election on hopes of deregulation and higher interest rates.

While the financial rally gained steam, the S&P technology index closed down 1.7 percent, leading the decliners. The index has fallen 3 percent since the election.

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Apple fell 2.5 percent and weighed the most on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, followed by Facebook and Microsoft.

Since technology valuations have soared in recent years, investors are switching money to sectors such as banks, which has been relatively cheaper but should now benefit from rising interest rates, said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

Investors have been betting technology will look relatively less attractive if Trump lives up to his promise to review regulation in healthcare and financial sectors and to increase government spending on infrastructure to boost economic growth.

 

"If growth becomes more even and available, we may see a continuation of rotation into lower-valuation, more cyclical businesses and out of high-valuation growth stocks like technology," said James Abate, chief investment officer at Centre Asset Management in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 21.03 points, or 0.11 percent, to 18,868.69, the S&P 500 lost 0.25 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,164.2 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.72 points, or 0.36 percent, to 5,218.40.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates at its December meeting, with traders pricing in a 91-percent chance, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

The industrial index finished up 0.4 percent, buoyed by prospects for increased infrastructure outlays.

Harman International rose 25.2 percent to $109.72 after Samsung Electronics announced an $8 billion deal to buy the company.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.10-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.44-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 82 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 423 new highs and 31 new lows.

About 10 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges on Monday, far above the 7.7 billion average for the previous 20 sessions.

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