(Reuters) - U.S. stocks were mixed on Tuesday as a boost from the energy sector and strong consumer confidence data helped offset losses in chipmakers and utilities ahead of an expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
The S&P 500 energy index .SPNY added 0.66 percent, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors, as Brent oil hit a four-year high, boosted by imminent U.S. sanctions on Iranian exports, and OPEC and Russia’s reluctance to raise output.
U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly rose in September, lifting it closer to levels last seen in 2000, the Conference Board said, underscoring strength in the labor market and overall economy.
That pushed the S&P 500 consumer discretionary index .SPLRCD up 0.57 percent, making it the biggest boost to all three of Wall Street’s main indexes.
“A lot of the noise around trade and anything else around politics really hasn’t suppressed consumer confidence nearly to the degree that the other factors have boosted it,” said Mike Dowdall, investment strategist for BMO Global Asset Management, in Chicago.
The Philadelphia semiconductor index .SOX dropped 1.47 percent, weighing on the S&P 500 technology index .SPLRCT, after brokerages Raymond James and KeyBanc cut their rating on a number of chipmakers. Intel (INTC.O) fell 1.61 percent after Raymond James downgraded the stock.
Five of the S&P 500 sector indexes are down in 2018, including the consumer staple index’s .SPLRCS 5.4 percent loss. The other six are up year to date, led by the technology index’s .SPLRCT 19 percent rally.
“There are different stories for different sectors, it’s a finicky little market,” said Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader at Bright Trading LLC. “If you’re a money manager, you have to be very careful about what you’re buying.”
At 2:36 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 0.21 percent at 26,506.71 points, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.11 percent to 2,916.2. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 0.16 percent to 8,005.99.
Financials .SPSY, including bank stocks .BKX, gave up earlier gains to trade down 0.3 percent ahead of an expected interest rate hike by the Fed on Wednesday.
“There is a bit of range in trading as people get ready for the Fed meeting,” said Dowdall.
Utilities .SPLRCU slid 1.17 percent and consumer staples lost 0.60 percent.
Nike (NKE.N) was up 0.8 percent ahead of its quarterly results, expected after the bell.
CenturyLink (CTL.N) tumbled 7 percent after Chief Financial Officer Sunit Patel left the company in a surprise move to join T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS.O) to oversee its integration with Sprint (S.N).
T-Mobile rose 0.8 percent and Sprint added 0.9 percent.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 31 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 62 new highs and 41 new lows.
Additional reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski
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