By Sinead Carew
U.S. stocks were slightly lower in afternoon trading on Monday and technology was the weakest sector, offsetting a steep rise in financial stocks as investors bet on higher interest rates.The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has remained under pressure since the Nov. 8 election as investors poured more money into sectors such as financials, industrials and energy, which are seen benefiting from President-elect Donald Trump's policies.The S&P technology index pared some losses as the afternoon wore on but was still down 1.7 percent, leading decliners. The index has fallen 3 percent since the election. Apple was down 2.8 percent and weighed the most on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500, followed by Amazon.com, Microsoft and Facebook. Since valuations of these companies have been driven up in recent years, investors are ready to put their money to work in companies such as banks which benefit from rising interest rates, said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh. "It's more greed than fear. These other industries - financials, energy and industrials - haven't necessarily benefited over the last couple of years. Maybe it's their turn," said Forrest.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 9.69 points, or 0.05 percent, to 18,837.97, the S&P 500 lost 3.11 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,161.34 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.69 points, or 0.45 percent, to 5,213.42.The Dow, which capped off its best week in five years on Friday, hit a another record high just after the start of trading but soon lost those gains.Investors have bet Trump will live up to his campaign promises to review regulation in the health and financial sectors and boost spending on infrastructure.
However, analysts said investors want specific details regarding Trump's policies and are also awaiting key appointments in his administration.The financial index rose 1.7 percent, with banks including JPMorgan providing the biggest boost. The index has risen over 10 percent in the last three sessions on hopes of deregulation and higher interest rates.The U.S. Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates at its December meeting, with traders pricing in an 91-percent chance, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.
The industrial index was up 0.3 percent, buoyed by prospects for increased infrastructure outlays. Harman International rose 25.5 percent to $109.97 after Samsung Electronics announced an $8 billion deal to buy the company.Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.26-to-1 ratio favored advancers.The S&P 500 posted 81 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 410 new highs and 27 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Nick Zieminski)
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