Wall Street flat; rise in tech stocks offsets energy lag

06 Dec, 2017

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(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes were little changed on Wednesday, with technology stocks clinging on to modest gains and helping offset losses in energy shares after oil prices slipped more than 2 percent.

Shares of Microsoft (MSFT.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O) rose more than 1 percent.

Investors are evaluating the details of the new tax code as the Senate Republicans attempt to reconcile their version of the bill with that of the House of Representatives.

“It’s hard to speculate on what the final bill is going to say. I think the market moves a little bit on that, but mostly moves on fundamentals and sentiment, which are strong,” said Sean O‘Hara, director at Pacer Financial Inc.

The bill passed on Saturday by Republican senators included a last-minute change to retain the corporate alternative minimum tax, or AMT, which had initially been removed.

Including the AMT could negate parts of the bill seen as beneficial to tech companies and other corporations.

“To the end of the year, investors tend to reposition, making sure their portfolio finishes the year where they wanted and begins the next year where they hope to be,” O‘Hara said.

At 12:33 p.m. ET (1733 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 14.5 points, or 0.06 percent, at 24,166.14 and the S&P 500 .SPX was down 2.15 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,627.42.

The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 4.75 points, or 0.07 percent, at 6,757.47.

Home Depot (HD.N) slipped 1.5 percent, following the home improvement chain’s announcement of a $15 billion share repurchase plan. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.

H&R Block (HRB.N) rose about 7.8 percent after the tax preparation service provider reported better-than-expected revenue.

Oil prices fell after a surprise rise in U.S. inventories of refined products suggested demand may be flagging.

Schlumberger (SLB.N), Exxon (XOM.N) and Chevron (CVX.N) fell between 0.5 percent and 2.3 percent, weighing the most on the energy index .SPNY.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,703 to 1,119. On the Nasdaq, 1,864 issues fell and 982 advanced.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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