* Gold prices set for best day in over two weeks
* Defensive S&P sectors rise; dollar, oil prices dip
* RetailMeNot surges after agreeing to sell itself
* Indexes down: Dow 0.25 pct, S&P 0.39 pct, Nasdaq 0.38 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
April 11 U.S. stocks edged lower on Tuesday as
rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and the Korean
peninsula pushed investors to safe-haven assets such as gold.
The White House said on Monday President Donald Trump was
open to authorizing additional strikes on Syria if its
government uses chemical weapons again or deploys barrel bombs,
while North Korea warned of a nuclear attack on the United
States if provoked as a U.S. Navy strike group moved towards the
Prices of safe-haven gold rose, with spot gold up the
most in over two weeks. Investors also ditched riskier assets
for the Japanese yen and U.S. Treasuries.
The dollar index slipped by the most in about two
weeks and oil prices eased from five-week highs.
"Heightening geopolitical fears are likely to constrain
investors from a mood change...(and) are likely to keep the
safety trade, gold and U.S. Treasuries, in play," Peter
Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial
wrote in a note.
At 9:42 a.m. ET (1342 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 52.2 points, or 0.25 percent, at 20,605.82, the
S&P 500 was down 9.26 points, or 0.39 percent, at 2,347.9
and the Nasdaq Composite was down 22.45 points, or 0.38
percent, at 5,858.47.
Investors also preferred to hold their bets ahead of the
start of the first-quarter earnings season, which is set to kick
off on Thursday when three big U.S. banks report.
A rally in financial shares has fizzled recently as
investors fret over lofty valuations and Trump's ability to make
good on his pro-growth promises.
Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower. Financials
were the biggest losers, down 0.6 percent.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo were the top
drags on the S&P, while Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan
weighed the most on the Dow.
Walt Disney boosted consumer discretionary stocks
after being added to Goldman's conviction list.
Consumer staples and real estate -
sectors that have predictable growth and are favored during
uncertainty - were the other gainers.
Trump will meet with about 20 chief executives, including
the heads of General Motors, IBM and Wal-Mart
, as he seeks to garner support for a $1 trillion
infrastructure program, tax reforms and other administration
Shares of online coupon provider RetailMeNot jumped
nearly 50 percent to $11.55 after agreeing to be bought by
marketing services company Harland Clarke.
Western Digital was up 2.9 percent at $87.17,
following a JPMorgan upgrade to "overweight" from "neutral".
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,738
to 897. On the Nasdaq, 1,398 issues fell and 878 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed three 52-week highs and one low,
while the Nasdaq recorded 22 highs and 17 lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by