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US STOCKS-Wall St rally cools as banks, energy stocks weigh

Stock MarketsFeb 17, 2017 19:50
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© Reuters. US STOCKS-Wall St rally cools as banks, energy stocks weigh

* Bank stocks fall as investors book profits

* Energy stocks slip on lower oil prices

* Kraft up on Unilever bid, helps Nasdaq limit losses

* Dow down 0.27 pct, S&P down 0.15 pct, Nasdaq up 0.08 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Feb 17 (Reuters) - The Dow and S&P 500 dipped on Friday, led by bank and energy stocks, as investors booked profits after a record-setting few days, while gains in Kraft Heinz helped keep the Nasdaq afloat.

Since President Donald Trump vowed last week to announce a tax reform in the coming weeks, Wall Street has inched up to record intraday and closing highs for most of this week in a rally where financials, mainly banks, outperformed other sectors.

But, with a strong fourth-quarter earnings season mostly complete, many investors say they need concrete signs of progress from Trump on his policy plans to justify more gains.

"While the markets have continued to melt up a little in the past two weeks, I'm not seeing depth, volume or conviction of the market that is looking to break out higher," said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM US LLP.

"If anything I think we are setting up for a period of profit taking, while forward-looking investors await more signs from the White House."

With a long weekend ahead due to the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, investors are unlikely to make too many new bets and trading volumes are likely to be thin.

At 12:30 p.m. ET (1730 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 54.89 points, or 0.27 percent, at 20,564.88 and the S&P 500 .SPX was down 3.7 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,343.52.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 4.47 points, or 0.08 percent, at 5,819.37, helped mainly by Kraft's KHC.O 7.6 percent jump to $93.95.

Kraft said it would continue to pursue a $143 billion bid for Unilever ULVR.L , despite being rebuffed. Unilever's U.S.-listed shares UL.N surged 11.6 percent. of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with Kraft's gains helping the consumer staples .SPLRCS notch as gain of 0.36 percent.

The S&P 500 financial index .SPSY , which has also gained on prospects of higher interest rates, was down 0.5 percent and the KBW Bank index .BKX fell nearly 0.46 percent.

Energy stocks .SPNY fell 0.75 percent as oil prices slipped.

UnitedHealth UNH.N sank 3.7 percent to $157.55 after it was sued by the Justice Department over Medicare charges. issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,844 to 1,012. On the Nasdaq, 1,485 issues fell and 1,261 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 27 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 90 new highs and 18 new lows.

US STOCKS-Wall St rally cools as banks, energy stocks weigh

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