* Target, Amazon boost discretionary sector
* UnitedHealth weighs on Dow
* Vertex jumps on success of cystic fibrosis treatment
* Dow down 0.17 pct, S&P up 0.11 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
(Adds details, comments, updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
March 29 Gains in energy and consumer
discretionary stocks propped up the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq on
Wednesday, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped due to
losses in healthcare stocks.
Oil prices rose more than 1.5 percent after data showed a
smaller-than-expected build in U.S. crude stockpiles. The data
lifted the S&P 500 energy index by 1 percent, led by Exxon
The consumer discretionary index was up 0.5
percent, helped by Amazon.com and Target.
With an August target date set for a highly anticipated tax
reform bill and the quarter nearing an end, analysts expect the
market to trade in a tight range.
"We're going to be fairly range-bound as we get to the
earnings season or until there is some significant development
on tax reforms," said Michael Scanlon, portfolio manager at
Manulife Asset Management in Boston.
At 10:49 a.m. ET (1449 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was down 36.01 points, or 0.17 percent, at
20,665.49, the S&P 500 was up 2.81 points, or 0.11
percent, at 2,361.38 and the Nasdaq Composite was up
17.40 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,892.54.
The reaction of U.S. markets to Britain formally initiating
a process to separate from the European Union was muted.
Among stocks, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, jumped 23
percent to $110.37 after its cystic fibrosis treatment succeeded
in a late-stage trial.
UnitedHealth was off 1 percent and weighed the most
on the Dow.
Luxury furniture retailer RH was up 11.3 percent at
$42.41 following a quarterly profit that beat analysts'
Chipmaker Exar Corp was up 22 percent at $12.95
following a deal to be bought by Maxlinear for about $700
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,744
to 1,067. On the Nasdaq, 1,553 issues rose and 1,066 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 10 52-week highs and one low, while
the Nasdaq recorded 58 highs and 19 lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by