* Financial stocks lead S&P losers
* Snapchat-owner Snap Inc surges in debut
* Caterpillar drops after HQ searched by law enforcement
* Indexes down: Dow 0.31 pct, S&P 0.44 pct, Nasdaq 0.51 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks retreated on Thursday as investors booked profits after a record run a day earlier, with Caterpillar’s slump dragging down the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on Wednesday had their best day since the November election, boosted by President Donald Trump’s more measured tone in a speech to Congress and as bank stocks surged on increased chances of an interest rate hike this month.
“It seems like after yesterday’s surge, there is no real news out there this morning and it is almost like the market’s simply taking a breather,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Caterpillar fell nearly 5 percent and was responsible for more than half of the 66-point decline on the Dow, after law enforcement officials searched its facilities in Illinois.
Nine of the 11 major S&P indexes were lower. The financial index, which surged to its highest level since 2007 on Wednesday and has outperformed in the post-election rally, lost nearly 1 percent on Thursday.
Bank stocks were among the top drags on the S&P.
“The losses are much smaller than the gains yesterday, so it seems like some modest profit taking here as we gear up for the upcoming news,” Detrick said.
The next big theme for the market is the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting meeting on March 14-15. A large number of Fed officials this week have stoked the possibility of an interest rate hike this month as the economy strengthens.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen is set to speak on Friday, and could provide the strongest indication on a move in the coming weeks.
Traders have currently priced in a 74 percent chance of a rate hike this month, up from roughly 30 percent at the start of the week, according to Thomson Reuters data.
At 12:34 p.m. ET (1734 GMT), the Dow was down 65.2 points, or 0.31 percent, at 21,050.35, the S&P 500 was down 10.64 points, or 0.44 percent, at 2,385.32 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 30.16 points, or 0.51 percent, at 5,873.87.
Investors were closely watching the trading debut of Snap Inc, the parent company of messaging app Snapchat. The shares gained as much as 49.5 percent to $25.42 after debuting at $24. The IPO was priced at $17.
Kroger slipped 3 percent after the supermarket operator reported a surprise decline in holiday-quarter same-store sales.
Monster Beverage was the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P, rising 13.7 percent following a quarterly revenue that beat analysts’ average estimate.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 2,098 to 775. On the Nasdaq, 1,845 issues fell and 940 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 31 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 106 new highs and 30 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)