* Fed's two-day meeting kicks off on Tuesday
* Healthcare top loser among S&P sectors
* Nvidia top stock on Nasdaq
* Dow down 0.23 pct, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.15 pct
(Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 13 The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones
Industrial Average were slightly lower on Monday as gains in
financials shares - ahead of a widely expected interest rate
hike - were weighed down by losses in drug stocks.
The Federal Open Market Committee, the central bank's
policy-setting board, is expected to lift interest rates by a
quarter point to 0.75 percent-1.00 percent after a two-day
meeting that starts on Tuesday.
All the major S&P sectors traded within a small range,
indicating subdued sentiment among investors.
Financials led the gainers, but with a mere 0.13
percent rise, while healthcare was off 0.3 percent and
on track to snap a three-day winning streak.
Merck was the top drag on the healthcare sector as
well as the Dow, declining 1.4 percent.
A non-partisan report on the costs associated with the
Republican plan to replace Obamacare could increase opposition
to the proposal, potentially hampering President Donald Trump's
first major legislative effort. The report is expected as soon
"There is a lot of uncertainty in the healthcare sector,"
said Brant Houston, managing director at CIBC Atlantic Trust
Private Wealth Management in Colarado.
"Until this whole debate plays out, investors are going to
be a little bit concerned about how these stocks will perform."
Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with six little
Investors are firmly focused on the Fed's interest rate
decision after an uptick in inflation and a strong U.S. labor
market made a rate hike a near-certainty.
Traders have placed a 94 percent bet that Fed Chair Janet
Yellen will announce an increase on Wednesday.
Her comments will closely analyzed for clues on whether the
central bank could become more aggressive on rates as the
economy shows signs of improvement.
"I think all eyes will be on what the Fed does and, more
importantly, what they say in their comments," Houston said.
At 11:18 a.m. ET (1518 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was down 47.16 points, or 0.23 percent, at
20,855.82, the S&P 500 was down 2.7 points, or 0.1
percent, at 2,369.9 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 8.59
points, or 0.15 percent, at 5,870.31.
Mobileye jumped nearly 30 percent to $61.10 after
chipmaker Intel agreed to buy the driverless technology
maker for $15.3 billion. Intel's shares were off 0.6 percent.
Shares of chipmaker Nvidia, which is also involved
in developing driverless technologies, rose 2.6 percent, helping
the Nasdaq stay afloat.
Nutritional supplements maker Herbalife rose 2.3
percent to $53.45 after billionaire investor Carl Icahn raised
his stake to 24.57 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,685
to 1,106. On the Nasdaq, 1,753 issues rose and 960 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 30 new 52-week highs and three new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 76 new highs and 32 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by