U.S. stocks slipped, with a three-week equity rally leveling off amid mixed data before Friday’s payrolls report that may provide a clearer picture on the strength of the economy and path for interest rates.
Investors were showing tempered enthusiasm for shares that have paced the recent rebound, with banks little changed while consumer and technology shares declined. Health-care and tech were the biggest drags as Johnson & Johnson and Merck & Co. lost more than 1.2 percent, while Microsoft Corp. dropped 1.8 percent. Kroger Co. sank 8.9 percent to weigh on consumer staples after the grocer forecast slower growth this year. Energy producers advanced for a third day.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.4 percent to 1,978.93 at 11:54 a.m. in New York, after rising Wednesday for a second day to hold at an eight-week high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 59.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,839.50, and the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.5 percent. The Russell 2000 Index of small caps added 0.3 percent to rise for a third day. Trading in S&P 500 shares was 9 percent below the 30-day average for this time of day.