By Sinead Carew
| NEW YORK
NEW YORK U.S. stocks were lower on Friday afternoon, with health stocks leading the declines, as investors cashed in on a post-election rally and waited for clarity on the next administration's policies. The Nasdaq was down in the afternoon, after hitting an intraday record high earlier, with the biggest drags from companies such as Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Amgen (AMGN.O). U.S. stocks have generally been rising since Donald Trump's surprise victory in the presidential election last week as his proposals to increase infrastructure spending and reduce taxes are expected to boost the economy.While the three major indexes were on track to close higher for the second week in a row, the rally lost some steam this week."People are still trying to wrap their arms around what the U.S. elections mean for policy going forward," said Jason Pride, director of investment strategy at Glenmede in Philadelphia.The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 33.73 points, or 0.18 percent, at 18,870.09, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 4.91 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,182.21.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 10.58 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,323.40 after hitting a record of 5346.8.Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower. Losses in shares of Merck (MRK.N) and Allergan Plc (AGN.N) helped drag down the S&P health sector .SPXHC, which led the decliners with a 1.2 percent fall.Consumer staples .SPLRCS fell 0.4 percent, weighed down by a 1 percent fall in Procter & Gamble (PG.N). The S&P Energy sector .SPNY was the best performer with a 0.7 percent increase as oil futures rose. The S&P financial sector .SPNY was up 0.2 percent, and has risen almost 11 percent since the U.S. election, boosted by prospect of higher interest rates and lighter regulation.
Traders are pricing in an 83-percent chance for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in December, according to Thomson Reuters data. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Friday he was leaning toward supporting a December increase and that the real question would be the Fed's rate path in 2017.Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George said that while she supports raising rates, the U.S. central bank must do so only gradually.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen had said Thursday the central bank could raise rates "relatively soon," sending out a clear signal for a December move.Gap (GPS.N) and Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF.N) each fell more than 14 percent after both retailers warned of a challenging holiday quarter.Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.03-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.The S&P 500 posted 32 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 216 new highs and 25 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal and Anya George Tharakan; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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