US STOCKS-Wall St cuts gains as tech stocks reverse course

martes 25 de marzo de 2014 12:47 GYT

* Biotech shares slip for second day this week

* Consumer confidence hits six-year high in March

* Walgreen, McCormick shares rally after results

* Dow up 0.3 pct; S&P 500 up 0.2 pct; Nasdaq off 0.2 pct (Updates to midday)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, March 25 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks sharply trimmed gains by midday on Tuesday as many of the market's momentum stocks turned negative.

Offsetting a strong reading on consumer confidence that had boosted the market earlier, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index led the market lower for a second day this week. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 1.2 percent after rising more than 2 percent earlier.

Selling pressure has also intensified of late as valuations reach levels not seen in almost a decade. The forward price-to-earnings ratio on the S&P 500 recently hit its highest since early 2005, and is trading above the historical median, according to Thomson Reuters IBES data.

So-called momentum stocks fell sharply near midday, including Netflix, down 3 percent at $367.50, and First Solar Inc, down 4 percent at $70.93. Netflix has declined for 14 of the past 15 sessions, falling almost 19 percent over that stretch.   Continuación...