The interest-rate sensitive utilities index fell 0.8 percent, while the real estate sector was down 1 percent. Telecommunications fell 1.6 percent.
Investors were hopeful about global economic growth and tax-cut led gains for corporate earnings, but they are anxiously watching whether any economic boost from the tax overhaul could overheat inflation and lead to a sharper rise in interest rates.
“So long as inflation remains at around these levels, it will certainly support the multiples that we have,” said Tim Dreiling, regional investment director for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank.
After a lukewarm December jobs report, signs of a pickup in inflation could come in the monthly consumer price report due on Friday.
Big U.S. banks are set to kick off fourth-quarter earnings season on Friday. Investors will seek more detail on the impact of corporate tax cuts, and what companies plan to do with the savings.
Profits for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 11.8 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an 8-percent increase a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
A handful of retailers, including Target, Kohl’s Corp and Lululemon Athletica have reported solid rises in same-store sales for the holiday period and raised fourth-quarter profit forecasts.
Boeing was the biggest boost for the Dow with a 2.4-percent increase, after it said it delivered 763 jetliners in 2017, likely retaining its title as the world’s biggest plane maker.
The S&P healthcare sector was boosted by a 1.6-percent rise in Johnson & Johnson, a 4.9-percent gain in Gilead and a 7.9-percent jump in Boston Scientific shares.
The financial sector was helped by a rise in U.S. 10-year Treasury yields to a 10-month high after the Bank of Japan said it would trim purchases of Japanese government bonds.
Chip stocks were the biggest drag on the technology sector, which was down 0.09 percent. Intel fell 2.4 percent after reports that systems running on its chips slowed after Microsoft Corp released patches for security threats.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.23-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.02-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 122 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 126 new highs and 23 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski)
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