Wall St dips as pharma, bank stocks retreat

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NEW YORK (March 8): U.S. stock prices dipped on Tuesday, as weakness in drug and financial shares put the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average on pace to register their first consecutive declines in more than a month.

Pharmaceutical stocks came under pressure after President Donald Trump tweeted that he was working on a "new system" to reduce drug prices in the industry, without providing details.

Trump also backed a draft bill unveiled by Republicans on Monday to repeal and replace the Obamacare healthcare law, but said the bill was open to negotiation.

The S&P 500 healthcare index fell 0.4 percent while the NYSE Arca pharmaceutical index declined 0.6 percent.

"Nothing that I have seen in the healthcare arena has said it is better or worse than what we have now," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst, Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

"Everyone that is a provider in that ecosystem has a target on them."

Financials, the best performing S&P sector since the November election, slipped 0.2 percent, pulled lower by losses in Wells Fargo and JPMorgan.

Investors were also preparing for the possibility of an interest rate hike when the U.S. Federal Reserve meets next week. A number of key officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, have made comments indicating a hike is likely at its March 14-15 meeting.

That has pushed expectations for a quarter point rate hike to 83 percent, up from about 30 percent last week, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Friday's employment report could cement expectations for a rate hike at the next Fed meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21.14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,933.2, the S&P 500 lost 4.61 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,370.7 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 6.18 points, or 0.11 percent, to 5,842.99.

Newly minted shares of Snapchat owner Snap Inc plunged 11.6 percent to $21.01 after analysts gave the company a lukewarm reception following its red-hot market debut, attracting short-sellers.

Nimble Storage soared 45.5 percent after Hewlett Packard Co said it would buy the data storage provider for $1.09 billion in cash. HPE's stock slipped 0.2 percent to $23.03.

Dish Network was up 4.8 percent at $64.16 after S&P Dow Jones Indicies said the satellite TV company will join the S&P 500 on March 13.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.21-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.52-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 50 new highs and 49 new lows. - Reuters