* S&P, Dow set for best 1st-qtr since 2013
* FMC jumps on asset deal with DuPont
* Indexes down: Dow 0.15 pct, S&P 0.14 pct, Nasdaq 0.16 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 31 U.S. stocks were slightly lower on
Friday, dragged down by technology stocks as investors locked in
gains of what is likely to be Wall Street's strongest
first-quarter performance in four years.
A raft of strong economic data and the possibility of fiscal
stimulus under President Donald Trump have driven U.S. equities
to record highs since his election.
The S&P is on track to gain 5.8 percent and the Dow 4.9
percent for the first quarter ending Friday, their biggest
quarterly gains since 2013.
The S&P technology index, which has outperformed
other sectors with a 12 percent gain during the quarter, was off
Financials were down 0.44 percent. The sector has
risen the most in the post-election rally.
"It's been a decent start to the quarter for stocks, and so
far the market has navigated a somewhat uncertain terrain with
grace," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive officer at 50 Park
Investments in Florida.
"It's perfectly normal on the last day of the quarter and
the last day of the month to see some profit taking, especially
after a strong run."
A Commerce Department report showed U.S. consumer spending
barely rose in February, but also pointed to the biggest annual
increase in inflation in nearly five years.
At 9:39 a.m. ET (1339 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 32.07 points, or 0.15 percent, at 20,696.42, the
S&P 500 was down 3.4 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,364.66
and the Nasdaq Composite was down 9.58 points, or 0.16
percent, at 5,904.77.
As stocks continue to rise, investors are looking to the
first-quarter earnings season to justify Wall Street's lofty
The S&P is trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for
the next 12 months against its long-term average of 15,
according to Thomson Reuters data.
Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower.
Shares of FMC Corp were the biggest gainers on the
S&P, up 14.7 percent after the company agreed to buy DuPont's
crop protection business and sell its health and
nutrition unit to DuPont. DuPont's shares were down 0.6 percent
Amazon.com was the top stock on the S&P and the
Nasdaq, with a 0.5 percent gain.
U.S.-listed shares of Blackberry were up 12.5
percent at $7.83 after the company reported fourth-quarter
profit above expectations and said it expected to be profitable
on an adjusted basis in 2018.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,349
to 1,119. On the Nasdaq, 1,327 issues fell and 810 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 2 new 52-week highs and one new
low, while the Nasdaq recorded 21 new highs and one new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by