* Oil prices fall 2.3 pct, energy index top index loser
* UnitedHealth dips on deal to buy Surgical Care Affiliates
* P&G, Coke drop on Goldman downgrade
* VCA jumps on Mars Inc's $7.7 bln buyout offer
* Dow down 0.29 pct, S&P down 0.22 pct, Nasdaq up 0.14 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Jan 9 The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined
on Monday, retreating from the historic 20,000 mark, weighed
down by banks and energy companies, while a gain in technology
stocks kept the Nasdaq afloat.
Of its 30 components, 20 of the Dow's stocks were trading
lower, led by Goldman Sachs's 1.4 percent decline. P&G
fell 0.9 percent and Coca-Cola dropped 0.5 percent
after Goldman downgraded both the consumer staple stocks.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the
energy sector's 1.3 percent drop. Oil prices fell 2.3
percent as signs of growing U.S. output outweighed optimism that
other producers were sticking to a deal to cut supply to bolster
The decline meant the Dow moved further away from the
20,000-point mark. It came tantalizingly close on Friday,
hitting a record of 19,999.63 as the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also
touched records after a late pop in technology stocks.
The sector again helped the market on Monday.
At 9:41 a.m. ET (1441 GMT) the Dow was down 57
points, or 0.29 percent, at 19,906.8.
The S&P 500 was down 4.91 points, or 0.22 percent, at
The Nasdaq Composite was up 7.83 points, or 0.14
percent, at 5,528.89.
"The market is building drama around 20,000 and if and when
we get promising earnings reports, the Dow will go through the
point like a hot knife through butter," said Andre Bakhos,
managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New
Wall Street's rally since Donald Trump won the U.S. election
in November, with investors betting he will introduce
business-friendly policies, has led to lofty valuations.
The S&P is trading at about 17 times expected earnings,
compared to its 10-year average of 14. That could make investors
cautious as they gear up for the fourth-quarter earnings season.
The first peek into how companies fared last quarter will be
provided later this week by big U.S. banks. S&P 500 companies
overall are expected to post a 6.1 percent increase in profit in
the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Among stocks, Dow component UnitedHealth lost 0.6
percent to $161.42 after the insurer's Optum unit said it would
buy Surgical Care Affiliates Inc for about $2.30
billion. Surgical Care's stock was up 15 percent.
VCA Inc, which runs hospitals for animals, soared
28 percent to $90.78 after Mars Inc said it would buy the
company for $7.7 billion.
Acuity Brands was the biggest percentage loser on
the S&P, falling 16 percent to $199.16 after the lighting
solutions provider reported first quarter sales that missed
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,741
to 915. On the Nasdaq, 1,469 issues fell and 942 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed three new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 27 new highs and seven new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by