By Shashank Nayar and David French
(Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes treaded water on Tuesday but remained near their record highs as investors took their cues from the Federal Reserve's continuing supportive attitude, with the S&P 500 poised for a seventh straight month of gains.
Six of the 11 major S&P sectors retreated, with technology and materials among the top losers.
Shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) fell 0.5% after hitting a lifetime high in the previous session, while Zoom Video Communications Inc tumbled 16.3% as it signaled a faster-than-expected easing in demand for its video-conferencing service after a pandemic-driven boom.
"It is hard to rationalize the surge that tech stocks have been seeing, while technology is a really good industry, its prices and valuations are really hard to keep up with and investors are looking for other areas with much higher upside," said Sandi Bragar, managing director at wealth management firm Aspiriant in California.
The benchmark S&P 500 was on course for its longest monthly winning streak since 2018 with a near 3% rise in August, after Fed Chair Jerome Powell last week signaled no rush to tighten monetary policy.
Both the Nasdaq and the Dow were also set for positive Augusts, gaining this month around 4% and 1.3% respectively.
"There continues to be a positive bias towards U.S. equities and investors are just holding back as we near the anticipated labor market data," said Arthur Weise, chief investment officer of Kingsland Growth Advisors.
While a strong recovery in economic growth and corporate earnings have boosted U.S. stocks in August, investors are concerned about rising coronavirus cases and the path of Fed policy.
A Reuters poll last week showed strategists believe the S&P 500 is likely to end 2021 not far from its current level.
Investors will also focus on payrolls data later in the week, which could feed into the Fed's decision at its September policy meeting.
By 1:49 p.m. ET (1740 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21.91 points, or 0.06%, to 35,377.93, the S&P 500 lost 4.74 points, or 0.10%, to 4,524.05 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.94 points, or 0.03%, to 15,260.95.
The energy sector index was flat as U.S. crude prices fell and companies continued to assess the fallout from disruption caused by Hurricane Ida. U.S. West Texas Intermediate is on track for its first monthly loss since March but remains close to its July mark, which was its highest price since 2014. [O/R]
Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA ) Inc jumped 3.9%. The pharmacy chain announced on Tuesday it would raise the minimum wage of all its staff to $15 an hour from October.
The S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 100 new highs and 18 new lows.
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