* FMC jumps on asset deal with DuPont
* Utilities lead S&P sectors
* Dow down 0.16 pct, S&P down 0.01 pct, Nasdaq up 0.06 pct
(Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 31 U.S. stocks were little changed on
Friday, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average
firmly on course to book their biggest first-quarter gains in
Wall Street has hit a series of record highs following the
election of President Donald Trump on bets that he would
introduce tax cuts and boost infrastructure spending. The rally
has also benefited from a raft of robust economic data.
The S&P is on track to gain 5.7 percent and the Dow 4.7
percent for the quarter ending Friday, their biggest
first-quarter gains since 2013.
However, investors appeared to be a little cautious heading
into the new quarter amid lofty valuations and doubts about
Trump's ability to deliver on his ambitious agenda.
"We're really only about 1 percent below the record high
again, so valuations are starting to creep higher," said Randy
Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles
Schwab & Co Inc.
"If earnings reports come in as expected, then they will
catch up with the valuations, if they don't then I think the
market will start to pull back."
First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to
rise 10.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The
index is trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the
next 12 months against its long-term average of 15.
Utilities and real estate - defensive
plays of the S&P 500 - outperformed the other major sectors.
At 10:55 a.m. ET (1455 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was down 33.91 points, or 0.16 percent, at
20,694.58, the S&P 500 was down 0.23 points, or 0.01
percent, at 2,367.83 and the Nasdaq Composite was up
3.28 points, or 0.06 percent, at 5,917.63.
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 13.8
percent at $7.91 after the company reported fourth-quarter
profit above expectations and said it expected to be profitable
on an adjusted basis in 2018.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,556
to 1,168. On the Nasdaq, 1,328 issues rose and 1,253 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed eight 52-week highs and one low,
while the Nasdaq recorded 56 highs and 10 lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by