By Sinead Carew
(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Dow barely rose on Monday as gains were offset by a fall in technology stocks, which pushed the Nasdaq lower as investors turned to more defensive sectors.
The slow-growing, high-dividend S&P utilities <.SPLRCU> and telecommunications <.SPLRCL> were the best performers among the 11 S&P sectors.
Technology <.SPLRCT> was the weakest sector, with a 0.6 percent decline. The sector been under pressure recently due to stretched valuations.
“The bond market is signaling an economic slowing,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. “That’s why you’re seeing defensive names like utilities do well, because equity investors are buying more in line with what that bond market is saying.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 14.79 points, or 0.07 percent, to 21,409.55, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 0.77 point, or 0.03 percent, to 2,439.07 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 18.10 points, or 0.29 percent, to 6,247.15.
A fall in Microsoft <MSFT.O>, Amazon <AMZN.O> and Alphabet <GOOGL.O> weighed most on the S&P 500, as well as on the Nasdaq.
“It’s simply profit-taking going into the end of the quarter. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see that reversed in early July with the thought that we’re going to see some strong earnings,” said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in New York.
The utilities sector was the S&P’s best performer, with a 0.8 percent rise, while the four-company telecommunications services sector index was next with a 0.6 percent gain.
“If people are coming out of tech the money just rotates into the other sectors. There’s not much driving the tape as there’s not much news out there,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The S&P energy <.SPNY> ended 0.2 percent lower as gains in oil prices were limited by rising crude supply in the United States and other countries.
A recent drop in oil prices has spurred concerns about low inflation, which remains below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target rate.
The Fed raised rates this month for the second time this year and has indicated it could raise them again. But futures imply only a 50 percent chance of another rate hike by December.
The S&P financial index <.SPSY> rose 0.5 percent after New York Fed President William Dudley and San Francisco Fed President John Williams generally brushed off weak data and stuck by their plans to keep hiking rates.
Monday’s data showed new orders for U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in May, with non-defense orders excluding aircraft – a closely watched proxy for business spending plans – dropping 0.2 percent.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 0.3 percent.
Shares in Hertz Global Holdings <HTZ.N> closed up 13.5 percent at $10.83 after a report that Apple Inc <APPL.O> is leasing a small fleet of cars from the rental company to test self-driving technology. Apple shares ended 0.3 percent lower.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.88-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.19-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
About 6.42 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges compared with the 7.2 billion average for the last 20 sessions.
(This version of the story was refiled to delete errant “percent” in paragraph 13)
(Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch and Jonathan Spicer in New York, Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru,; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler)