U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday as financials dropped after JPMorgan and Bank of America warned of revenue weakness, offsetting gains in defensive plays.
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Financials <.SPSY> rallied more than 20 percent in the wake of the U.S. presidential election on hopes of fiscal stimulus and deregulation under President Donald Trump, but they have struggled in recent weeks. The sector is now down 0.3 percent on the year.
"All the things that Trump told us were going to happen, which was infrastructure spend, deregulation, tax reform, people don’t believe any of those will happen, certainly the magnitude and with the speed the market had originally priced in," said Ernesto Ramos, head of equities at BMO Global Asset Management in Chicago.
"That is why you’ve seen a lot of the move back, specifically banks."
Measures of market volatility are at rock-bottom, hitting trading desks at big banks. The U.S. stock market's main gauge of investor anxiety <.VIX> closed at its lowest level in over two decades on May 8 and has not topped its long-term average of 20 since November. It did, however, hit a seven-day high of 11.30 on Wednesday.
Defensive plays such as utilities <.SPLRCU>, up 0.46 percent and telecoms <.SPLRCL>, up 0.35 percent, were the bright spots as enthusiasm fades for sectors that would benefit from Trump policies.
Energy stocks <.SPNY>, down 0.4 percent, also lost ground. Oil prices touched a three-week low as rising output from Nigeria and Libya fueled concerns that OPEC-led output cuts are being undermined. U.S. crude
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 20.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,008.65, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 1.1 points, or 0.05 percent, to 2,411.81 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 4.67 points, or 0.08 percent, to 6,198.52.
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Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.04-to-1 ratio favored 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 7.85 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the 6.72 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)