* S&P 500, Dow on pace for best 1st qtr since 2013
* JPMorgan, Wells Fargo weigh on S&P 500
* Dow -0.28 pct, S&P -0.10 pct, Nasdaq +0.02 pct
(Updates to afternoon)
By Noel Randewich
March 31 Wall Street edged lower on Friday, held
down by Exxon and JPMorgan Chase as investors wrapped up a
strong quarter and weighed whether corporate earnings reports
will justify the market's lofty valuations.
Major indexes have hit a series of record highs following
the election of President Donald Trump on bets that he would
improve economic growth by cutting taxes and boosting
infrastructure spending. The rally has also benefited from a
raft of robust economic data and a pickup in corporate earnings
For the quarter ending Friday, the S&P 500 is on track to
end 5.6 percent higher with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up
4.5 pct, their biggest first-quarter gains in four years.
Investors are now looking to the upcoming quarterly earnings
season to justify pricy valuations.
First-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to
rise 10.1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The
index is trading at about 18 times earnings estimates for the
next 12 months, compared to its long-term average of 15.
"Valuations are as stretched as they ever get," said Bruce
Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co in
Nashville. "Certainly that's cause for concern if earnings don't
grow the way the are anticipated to grow."
At 2:25 pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
down 0.28 percent at 20,671.29 points, while the S&P 500
had lost 0.10 percent to 2,365.55.
The Nasdaq Composite added 0.02 percent to
Six of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with the financial
index down 0.57 percent. JPMorgan Chase fell
1.32 percent and Wells Fargo & Co lost 0.78 percent.
Also weighing on the S&P 500 and Dow, Exxon Mobil
fell 1.92 percent.
FMC Corp rallied 13.77 percent after it agreed to
buy DuPont's crop protection business and sell its health
and nutrition unit to DuPont. DuPont fell 1.39 percent
Amazon.com was the top stock on the S&P and the
Nasdaq, with a 1.3 percent gain.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
1.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 87 new highs and 15 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)