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US STOCKS-Wall St flat as losses in healthcare offset gains in energy
September 22, 2017 / 3:49 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as losses in healthcare offset gains in energy

* North Korea rhetoric drives demand for gold

* Apple biggest drag on S&P, Nasdaq

* T-Mobile, Sprint rise after Reuters report on deal closure

* Indexes down: Dow 0.14 pct, S&P 0.10 pct, Nasdaq 0.17 pct (Adds details, comment, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

Sept 22 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed in late morning trading on Friday as losses in financial and healthcare stocks were offset by gains in energy and industrial stocks.

The Dow was weighed down by a 2.5 percent drop in the shares of UnitedHealth but was supported by a 0.90 percent rise in Boeing and Chevron.

Apple fell 1.44 percent, weighing the most on the S&P and the Nasdaq, as the launch of iPhone 8 kicked off in a less lively mood in Asia versus previous debuts.

Investor sentiment suffered from concerns over simmering tensions between North Korea and the United States, after the two countries exchanged threats.

“It’s a little bit of a risk-off move. We seem to be getting a lot of rhetoric, both from the administration and North Korea, and it would be premature to say there is an end,” said Marcelle Daher, senior managing director, asset allocation at Manulife Asset Management.

“But generally the market tends to shrug these things off.”

The latest spike in tensions prompted demand for gold, which rebounded from a four-week low on Friday.

At 11:00 a.m. ET (1500 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 30.48 points, or 0.14 percent, at 22,328.75, the S&P 500 was down 2.61 points, or 0.10 percent, at 2,497.99 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 11.18 points, or 0.17 percent, at 6,411.51.

The Dow was on track to end the week in gains, but the S&P and the Nasdaq were poised for weekly losses.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led 0.62 percent jump in the telecom services index, followed by a 0.56 percent rise in the energy index.

Oil prices steadied, with the brent crude futures hitting its highest since March, as investors waited to see whether major producers would back an extension to output cuts beyond March next year.

The rate-sensitive utilities index was the biggest laggard, on track to clock its worst weekly loss since Nov. 2016.

T-Mobile rose 1.45 percent after Reuters exclusively reported the company was close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with Sprint. Sprint shares jumped 4.48 percent.

Versartis slumped more than 85 percent after its experimental drug for treatment of growth hormone deficiency in children failed in a late-stage study.

United States Steel dipped 5.19 percent after Cowen downgraded the stock to “underperform” from “market perform”.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,808 to 896. On the Nasdaq, 1,611 issues rose and 1,031 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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