March 12, 2018 / 4:38 PM / 7 months ago

US STOCKS-Dow turns lower as industrial stocks weigh

* Oclaro second busiest stock after Lumentum’s $1.7 bln buyout

* Broadcom gains amid reports of Intel’s interest in the company

* Dow off 0.53 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.34 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

March 12 (Reuters) - Wall Street struggled to hold on to early gains on Monday as losses in industrial stocks including Boeing and Caterpillar more than offset gains in chipmakers and technology companies.

Many of the United States’ big manufacturers have suffered since U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move that could increase their costs while hampering sales abroad.

But the half percent fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Average followed a near 2 percent gain for New York’s main indexes on Friday after data showed sluggish wage growth in February, easing concerns the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates swiftly.

“It is a quiet day in terms of news and you still have the tariff fears kind of circling in the markets,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

Trump softened his stance last week by exempting Canada and Mexico, but negotiations are ongoing as the European Union also seeks to exempt itself from the tariffs.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, by contrast, gained around 0.4 percent, helped in part by what traders read as further signs of official disapproval of Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for U.S. graphics chipmaker Qualcomm.

The U.S. Treasury said in a letter to Singapore-based Broadcom that it had violated a Treasury order by not giving sufficient notice to a national security panel of its plans to redomicile in the United States.

“It’s ... the government coming out and saying that it is leaning towards not allowing this merger to go through,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

“This is a real change, because under the Republican administration, it is generally thought of as less regulatory, less hand-on approach to this sort of this and this is the very opposite.”

Broadcom gained 3.4 percent while shares in Qualcomm were flat.

Shares of Micron Technology jumped nearly 10 percent after analysts at Nomura raised their target for the stock to $100 - $41 above current rates.

Ocular jumped 27 percent after laser and optical fiber specialist Lumen Holdings said it would buy the optical components producer for $1.7 billion. Lumentum’s shares rose 7.6 percent.

Wall Street had its worst two weeks in two years last month as fears of higher wages, inflation and interest rates triggered a selloff that dragged the main indexes into correction territory.

Traders of U.S. short-term interest-rate futures, however, have reeled bets back in on the Federal Reserve delivering any more than the earlier forecast three rate hikes this year.

The S&P 500 in response is just 3 percent below record highs hit on Jan. 26 while the Nasdaq is back to a record. By 11:51 a.m. ET, the S&P 500 was down just 0.1 percent at 2,783.96. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Patrick Graham)

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