US STOCKS-Wall St sinks for 3rd day as healthcare, energy slump

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* Healthcare biggest sector weight on S&P 500

* Russell 2000 logs biggest one-day drop this year

* Exxon shares fall after spending plan

* Indexes down: Dow 0.52 pct, S&P 0.65 pct, Nasdaq 0.93 pct (Updates to close of U.S. market)

By Lewis Krauskopf

March 6 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes fell for athird session on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 posting its biggestone-day decline in a month, as healthcare and energy sharesslumped and investors sought reasons to buy after the market'sstrong rally to start the year.

With corporate earnings season ending, investors are lookingfor next catalysts to drive the market, including a potentialtrade agreement between the United States and China and economicdata, including Friday's employment report.

Optimism over a trade deal and over the Federal Reservebecoming less aggressive on raising interest rates have helpedfuel a 10.6 percent rise for the S&P 500 this year, although therally has stalled in recent days.

"In the absence of positive catalysts, it's easy to takeprofits," said David Joy, chief market strategist at AmeripriseFinancial in Boston. "I don't think today's price action isnecessarily indicative of a trend. It's just churning withinwhat is now almost a three-week sideways move in the market."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 133.17 points,or 0.52 percent, to 25,673.46, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 18.2points, or 0.65 percent, to 2,771.45 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 70.44 points, or 0.93 percent, to 7,505.92.

"The market has had a great move up," said Peter Tuz,president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville,Virginia. "You can't really say that things are cheap any more."

The small-cap Russell 2000 .RUT dropped 2.0 percent, itsbiggest one-day percentage decline of the year. The closelyfollowed Dow Jones Transport Average .DJT fell 0.5 percent,its ninth consecutive session of declines, which is its longestlosing streak since February 2009.

Investors say the 2,800 level on the S&P 500 has providedtechnical resistance to the benchmark index moving higher,although the index has breached its 200-day moving average,another key level.

"We have overcome that major hurdle of resistance, but 2,800has proven tougher," Joy said.

The S&P 500 healthcare sector .SPXHC lost 1.5 percent,with Pfizer IncPFE.N down 2.4 percent and AmgenAMGN.O off3.0 percent.

Tuesday's surprise resignation of Food and DrugAdministration commissioner Scott Gottlieb raised uncertaintyabout biotech and pharmaceutical stocks in a sector that alreadyhas been shaken by the potential for drug-pricing and otherhealthcare legislation.

The energy sector .SPNY dropped 1.3 percent as U.S. crudeprices dipped and Exxon MobilXOM.N shares fell 1.1 percentafter the oil company said it plans to boost spending forseveral years to restore flagging oil and gas production.

In other corporate news, General ElectricGE.N shares fell7.9 percent, extending losses from a day earlier when theconglomerate's chief executive warned of negative industrialcash flow this year.

In its regular "Beige Book" report, the Fed said slowingglobal growth and the 35-day partial federal government shutdownweighed on the U.S. economy in the first weeks of 2019, but itcontinued growing amid still-tight labor markets.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a3.02-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.71-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 5 new lows; theNasdaq Composite recorded 22 new highs and 35 new lows.

About 7.3 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, inline with the daily average over the last 20 sessions. (Additional reporting by Sinead Carew and Terence Gabriel inNew York, Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editingby Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski) ((lewis.krauskopf@thomsonreuters.com; 646-223-6082; ReutersMessaging: lewis.krauskopf.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net,Twitter: @LKrauskopf))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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