By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mixed on Tuesday as a boost from the energy sector and strong consumer confidence data helped offset losses in chipmakers and utilities ahead of an expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike.
The S&P 500 energy index <.SPNY> added 0.66 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors, as Brent oil hit a four-year high, boosted by imminent U.S. sanctions on Iranian exports, and OPEC and Russia's reluctance to raise output.
U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in September, lifting it closer to levels last seen in 2000, the Conference Board said, underscoring strength in the labour market and overall economy.
That pushed the S&P 500 consumer discretionary index <.SPLRCD> up 0.57 percent, making it the biggest boost to all three of Wall Street's main indexes.
"A lot of the noise around trade and anything else around politics really hasn't suppressed consumer confidence nearly to the degree that the other factors have boosted it," said Mike Dowdall, investment strategist for BMO Global Asset Management, in Chicago.
The Philadelphia semiconductor index <.SOX> dropped 1.47 percent, weighing on the S&P 500 technology index <.SPLRCT>, after brokerages Raymond James and KeyBanc cut their rating on a number of chipmakers. Intel
Five of the S&P 500 sector indexes are down in 2018, including the consumer staple index's <.SPLRCS> 5.4 percent loss. The other six are up year to date, led by the technology index's <.SPLRCT> 19 percent rally.
"There are different stories for different sectors, it's a finicky little market," said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC. "If you're a money manager, you have to be very careful about what you're buying."
At 2:36 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> was down 0.21 percent at 26,506.71 points, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.11 percent to 2,916.2. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 0.16 percent to 8,005.99.
Financials <.SPSY>, including bank stocks <.BKX>, gave up earlier gains to trade down 0.3 percent ahead of an expected interest rate hike by the Fed on Wednesday.
"There is a bit of range in trading as people get ready for the Fed meeting," said Dowdall.
Utilities <.SPLRCU> slid 1.17 percent and consumer staples lost 0.60 percent.
T-Mobile rose 0.8 percent and Sprint added 0.9 percent.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 41 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
Updated Date: Sep 26, 2018 01:05 AM