February 21, 2019 / 5:02 PM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Weak economic data, healthcare shares pull Wall St lower

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* U.S.-made capital goods orders unexpectedly fall in Dec

* U.S., China sketch outlines of deal to end trade war

* J&J falls, weighs on S&P and Dow

* Indexes down: Dow 0.41 pct, S&P 0.38 pct, Nasdaq 0.43 pct (Adds comments, details, updates prices)

By Shreyashi Sanyal

Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, following a recent run of gains, pressured by weak economic data and a drop in healthcare shares, while investors kept a close watch on U.S.-China trade talks.

The Commerce Department said new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in December, pointing to a further slowdown in business spending on equipment that could crimp economic growth.

Another set showed the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's gauge on U.S. Mid-Atlantic business activity declined in February to its weakest level since May 2016.

The weak numbers threatened to snap the S&P 500's three-day gain, which was driven by signs of progress in trade talks. The index continues to hover near its two-month high.

The United States and China have started to outline commitments in principle on the stickiest issues in their trade dispute, marking the most significant progress yet toward ending a seven-month trade war, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

"The data confirms some of the slowdown that we've seen from late last year. It confirms companies are still leery to go out and invest because of the trade discussions," Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist, LPL Financial.

"But the big picture is we've got an enormous rally this year. Markets seem to almost be willing to bypass the weak data that we've seen for the optimism over a resolution on trade."

At 11:27 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 106.28 points, or 0.41 percent, at 25,848.16. The S&P 500 was down 10.62 points, or 0.38 percent, at 2,774.08 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 32.16 points, or 0.43 percent, at 7,456.91.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 0.85 percent decline in energy index after oil prices eased from their highs.

Dragging the markets lower was a 0.86 percent decline in the healthcare sector, weighed down by Johnson & Johnson, which fell 1.1 percent.

The healthcare company said it received subpoenas from U.S. regulators related to litigation involving alleged asbestos contamination in its signature Baby Powder product line.

Biogen Inc shares fell 3.7 percent after brokerage Stifel downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy". The Nasdaq Biotech index was down 1.57 percent.

Nike Inc shares dropped 1.7 percent after the company's sneaker worn by emerging basketball star Zion Williamson split in half during a game between Duke University and North Carolina.

The sportswear maker's shares weighed the most on the consumer discretionary sector, which slipped 0.32 percent

Among gainers, Albermarle's shares jumped 6.2 percent after the lithium producer posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and gave a bullish 2019 outlook.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.97-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.60-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 25 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and nine new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)

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