The Nasdaq closed lower to end eight straight days of gains on Monday as some large-cap tech stocks slid in a late-day sell-off.
The Dow cut its gains and the S&P 500 ended a thinly traded session flat as optimism faded over China's move to tame its growth, and as some technical indicators suggested a near-term pullback could be in the cards.
About 7.32 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, well below the year's daily average of 8.62 billion.
Stocks earlier had risen as optimism China would not aggressively head off growth boosted energy and materials stocks.
Companies that sell oil, like Chevron Corp
Investors had feared China would raise interest rates to slow growth, but instead it merely increased the amount of extra capital top banks must hold, a less severe move by the world's second-largest economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 18.24 points, or 0.16 percent, to end at 11,428.56, well off its intraday high of 11,480.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> inched up a mere 0.06 of a point, or 0.00 percent, to finish at 1,240.46. But the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> fell 12.63 points, or 0.48 percent, to close at 2,624.91.
The S&P 500 reached another high for the year on Monday, advancing to an intraday peak at 1,246.73. The index's steady climb since breaching 1,228 -- a key retracement of the 2007-2009 bear market losses -- has been judged a sign of further gains, even as the relative strength index suggests stocks are nearing an overbought condition.
APPLE PARES GAIN, DELl DROPS
The Nasdaq ended the day solidly lower as some tech names, including Apple Inc
We've definitely seen a lot of strength in large-cap tech recently, and they took a bit of a pause in the afternoon with people winding down at the end of the day, said Timothy Harder, chief investment officer at Peak Capital Investment Services in Denver. There wasn't much to spur trading, and in the absence of any real news and light volume, there wasn't much to keep us up.
Healthcare stocks had jumped briefly on news that a Virginia judge invalidated a key part of the March healthcare overhaul championed by President Obama, but these shares quickly fell back. After rising as much as 1.6 percent, the Morgan Stanley Healthcare Payor Index <.HMO> slipped 0.3 percent. Shares of health insurer Aetna
In deal news, General Electric Co
GE's stock shed 0.6 percent to $17.62 after reaching a deal to buy Wellstream by raising its bid for the British oil drilling pipe maker by 6 percent to $1.3 billion.
Dell fell 3.9 percent to $13.36 and was one of the biggest percentage losers in both the S&P and Nasdaq 100 <.NDX> after it sweetened its cash offer for Compellent to $27.75 a share. Compellent fell 2.5 percent to $27.98 after trading above $34 last week.
Private equity firm Bain Capital agreed to buy IMCD, valuing the Dutch chemicals firm at around $857.5 million, while scientific instruments maker Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc
Thermo Fisher shares rose 4.8 percent to $55.56 and Dionex jumped 20 percent to $117.83.
U.S. President Barack Obama's tax deal with Republicans will likely win grudging passage in the U.S. Congress, backers and critics agreed, after Obama clashed with liberals in his own party who branded it a giveaway to the rich.
Declining stocks outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a ratio of about 8 to 7, while on the Nasdaq, about eight stocks fell for every five that rose.
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)