Dow's March to 20K Pauses Amid Drop in Oil Prices


Declines in financial and energy companies weighed on Wall Street on Monday, stalling the Dow's pursuit of 20,000, while the Nasdaq hit a record intraday high on gains in technology stocks and a string of deals in the health sector.

The energy sector dropped 1.4 percent as oil prices slid on concerns that rising Iraqi exports and U.S. output could dampen the impact of a deal among major producers to limit output.

Two-thirds of the 30 Dow components were lower, with Exxon Mobil's 2.1 percent decline weighing the most, followed by a 1.3 percent drop in Chevron.

The declines meant the Dow stayed shy of the psychologically significant 20,000 mark. It came tantalizingly close on Friday, hitting a record of 19,999.63, as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also touched records after a late pop in tech stocks.

"Our view about the Dow (hitting) 20,000 is not a matter of if, but a matter of when," said Matt Jones, U.S. head of equity strategy at J.P. Morgan Private Bank in New York.

At 12:28 p.m. ET (1728 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 48.65 points, or 0.24 percent, at 19,915.15, the S&P 500 was down 3.53 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,273.45.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 17.96 points, or 0.33 percent, at 5,539.01, easing slightly after hitting an all-time high of 5,539.14.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower.

The tech sector was the top gainer. Apple , celebrating the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, rose 1.3 percent to a 13-month high of $119.43.

"As we move into the next couple of weeks, the focus will move towards the micro and to specific company earnings and expectation going forward," Jones said.

The first peek into how companies fared in the previous quarter will be provided later this week by big banks. S&P 500 companies overall are expected to post a 5.8 percent increase in profit in the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The financial sector was however off 0.34 percent on Monday. Other big-name decliners were P&G and Coca-Cola , which dropped about 1 percent each after Goldman downgraded the stocks to "sell".

The healthcare sector gained 0.34 percent, boosted by a string of multi-billion dollar deals.

Pet hospital operator VCA jumped 28 percent after agreeing to a $7.7 billion buyout offer from candy and pet foods maker Mars Inc. Ariad Pharma surged nearly 73 percent on a $5.20 billion buyout deal with Japan's Takeda.

Surgical Care Affiliates jumped 16 percent on a deal to be bought by UnitedHealth for about $2.30 billion. Dow component UnitedHealth dipped 0.6 percent.

One dim spot in the sector was Celgene, which lost 1.1 percent after issuing a full-year revenue forecast that missed analysts' expectations.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,604 to 1,276. On the Nasdaq, 1,498 issues fell and 1,294 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed five new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 14 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)