Wall St falls as health, tech shares drag, tariff deadline looms

Wall St falls as health, tech shares drag, tariff deadline looms

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks pulled back on Monday from near record levels, dragged lower by healthcare and technology shares, as investors braced for a busy week of political and economic news including a potential turning point in the U.S.-China trade dispute.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Wall Street is focused on Dec. 15, when the next round of U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports is scheduled to take effect. China said on Monday that it hoped to make a trade deal with the United States as soon as possible.

Investor hopes of at least an initial U.S.-China agreement has helped pushed major stock indexes to record highs, with the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX hovering about 0.5% below its all-time high.

“It’s not uncommon for stocks to pause, given where they are, in advance of some news,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird in Milwaukee.

“We get the chance to see whether or not the rally we have had in U.S. stocks is warranted from a fundamental perspective and whether or not we are still moving in the right direction,” Delwiche said.

Aside from U.S.-China trade developments, investors will focus this week on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy meeting, an election in the United Kingdom, and potential agreement related to a North American trade pact.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 83.53 points, or 0.3%, to 27,931.53, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 7.06 points, or 0.22%, to 3,138.85 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 22.37 points, or 0.26%, to 8,634.16.

Most of the S&P 500 sectors were lower, with healthcare .SPXHC and tech .SPLRCT weighing the most on the index.

In company news, Merck & Co (MRK.N) said it would buy cancer drug developer ArQule Inc (ARQL.O) for $2.7 billion, prompting shares of ArQule to double in value. Merck shares were little changed.

Shares of industrial conglomerate 3M Co (MMM.N) dropped 0.7% after Citigroup cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy.”

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.03-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 83 new highs and 49 new lows.

Additional reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silvan and Steve Orlofsky

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