S&P 500 dips on pharmaceuticals and technical resistance

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Major U.S. stock indices erased earlier gains to trade negative for the day.  Lower than expected consumer sentiment index, a technical resistance for the S&P 500, and declining shares of drug companies pushed the market down.

The S&P 500 Index is down 1.74 points, or 0.15 percent, to trade at 1,148.50 at 11:03 a.m. EST.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.04 percent and the Nasdaq Composite is down 0.27percent. 

Initially, a better than expected report on retail sales from the Census Bureau pushed the market to open higher for the day. 

However, the preliminary March readings of the Reuters/University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, released at 9:55 am EST, dipped to 72.5, below the forecast of 74, according to Bloomberg, and below last month's reading of 73.6.

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) shares dropped after it discontinued its trials for figitumumab, a lung cancer drug, and announced that Phase 3 studies of its breast cancer drug Sutent did not meet their primary endpoints.  Pfizer is down 1.37 percent.

Abbot Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) is down 2.86 percent after a Citigroup downgrade. 

The S&P 500 also encountered resistance at the 2010 intraday high of 1,150.45 and closing high of 1,150.23. The index briefly penetrated both levels early in the morning session.

However, according to practitioners of technical analysis, a penetration does not become a breakout if it is not followed by a sustained rally.  

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