January 7, 2020 / 5:08 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Energy, healthcare shares keep a lid on Wall Street, Iran concerns linger

* Micron gains on bullish brokerage comment

* Microchip provides upbeat sales outlook

* Energy stocks slide as oil drops 1%

* Indexes: Dow down 0.08%, S&P off 0.06%, Nasdaq up 0.19% (For a live blog on the U.S. stock market, click or type LIVE/ in a news window)

By Sruthi Shankar and Susan Mathew

Jan 7 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped on Tuesday, led by losses in oil and healthcare stocks, with investors nervously awaiting the latest in the U.S.-Iran standoff.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq remained buoyant as chipmakers resumed their strong rally from 2019.

Micron Technology Inc jumped 6.7% after brokerage Cowen & Co upgraded the chipmaker to "outperform", citing earlier-than-expected recovery in the memory market. Microchip Technology Inc rose 5.3% after raising the mid-point of its third-quarter sales forecast.

Energy stocks were down 1% as oil prices surrendered gains made over the last few days, and healthcare stocks fell 0.3% as shares in Merck & Co Inc were hit by mixed results in its late-stage trial of a cancer drug.

Equity markets have been trying to shake off concerns from escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran after the killing of a top Iranian military commander last week by the United States.

"The reason why we are modestly negative here is the tension in the Middle East and the noise coming out around it," said Phil Blancato, chief executive officer of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.

"I think the market is being very patient here, just waiting for news from one side or the other."

Latest data showed new orders for U.S.-made goods fell in November, pulled down by steep declines in demand for machinery and transportation equipment, pointing to sustained weakness in manufacturing.

However, another reading on the non-manufacturing sector activity for November came in better than expected.

At 11:25 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 23.62 points, or 0.08%, at 28,679.76, the S&P 500 was down 1.99 points, or 0.06%, at 3,244.29 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 16.94 points, or 0.19%, at 9,088.40.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc rose 1.3% after the Wall Street bank said it had overhauled its main business units ahead of its quarterly results next week.

Shares in Apache Corp soared 25% after it and France's Total SA said they made a major oil discovery off the coast of Suriname at the closely watched Maka-Central 1 well.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.25-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.14-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 32 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 71 new highs and seven new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar, Medha Singh and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Maju Samuel and Shounak Dasgupta)

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