S&P 500 Edges Lower, Tech and Utility Losses Offset Energy Rally

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The S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell in afternoon trading on Wednesday as losses in technology shares and big dividend payers, including utilities, offset sharp gains in the energy sector.

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News that OPEC agreed to cut production drove U.S. oil prices up 9.3 percent, causing the S&P 500 energy index to rally 5.1 percent and bond yields to jump.

But top dividend payers likes utilities and telecommunications companies, whose stocks tend to fall as interest rates rise, declined. The S&P utility index was down 2.7 percent, while shares of AT&T fell 1.7 percent. Technology shares also dropped, including Microsoft, which was down 1.1 percent.

Still, all three major indexes were on track to post gains for the month.

November was set to be Wall Street's best month since March, largely because of the post U.S.-election rally.

"You had this explosive rally post election ... Stocks didn't just go up, they went vertical," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia. "So you're going to have some sort of retracement."

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The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.22 points, or 0.17 percent, to 19,154.82, the S&P 500 lost 2.62 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,202.04 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 50.93 points, or 0.95 percent, to 5,328.98.

Earlier in the session, the Dow and S&P 500 hit record intraday highs.

Bank stocks also rose sharply, with Bank of America up 4.3 percent.

Investors expect the market to benefit from President-elect Donald Trump's policies, including higher spending on infrastructure and simpler regulations in the healthcare and banking industries.

Steven Mnuchin, Trump's pick for Treasury secretary, told CNBC that tax reforms and trade pact overhauls would be top priorities of the new administration.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.82-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 62 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 167 new highs and 39 new lows.

 

 

(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Nick Zieminski)

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