March 13, 2018 / 4:21 PM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St edges lower as technology, energy stocks drag

* U.S. crude down more than $1

* GE slides after JPMorgan cuts PT

* Dow down 0.36 pct, S&P 0.36 pct, Nasdaq 0.74 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

March 13 (Reuters) - Losses in technology and energy stocks on Tuesday weakened Wall Street's strong opening gains following U.S. consumer price data that eased worries about rising inflation.

All the three main indexes were lower in mid-day trading, weighed down by a near 2 percent drop in shares of Microsoft , Facebook and Alphabet.

Energy stocks fell 0.3 percent as oil prices slipped to session low.

Earlier in the day, the markets took comfort from data that showed U.S. consumer price growth slowed in February, an indication that an anticipated pickup in inflation probably will be only gradual.

"It certainly presents some more difficult questions for the central bank if they look to embark on a more aggressive rate hiking cycle next week," said Aaron Kohli, interest rate strategist, BMO Capital Markets in New York.

"How do they expect to get inflation materially higher if they are already starting to see some signs of spotty weakness?"

At 12:07 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 89.92 points, or 0.36 percent, at 25,088.69.

The S&P 500 was down 10.23 points, or 0.367586 percent, at 2,772.79 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 55.86 points, or 0.74 percent, at 7,532.47.

U.S. Treasury yields fell in response to the data and news that President Donald Trump had ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump fired Tillerson after a series of public rifts over issues including North Korea and Russia, replacing his chief diplomat with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

"The Tillerson news is new, it was Gary Cohn last week, the market absorbs it and continues to go back to what's driving the financial markets and it's probably fears around inflation and tariffs that are influencing the markets," said Rich Guerrini, chief executive officer of PNC Investments in Pittsburgh.

The news comes just a week after the departure of Trump's economic adviser Gary Cohn in the wake of a surprise turn towards new trade tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump also said he was considering conservative commentator Larry Kudlow "very strongly" to become his next top economic adviser.

Among stocks, General Electric fell about 4 percent after JPMorgan cut its price target on the stock to $11 from $14, saying the industrial conglomerate was not a "safety stock" in a volatile market.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 1.53-to-1 ratio and for a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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