* ADP misses February expectations, January revised higher
* Markit, ISM services show modest growth
* Healthcare stocks rise after Supreme Court oral argument
* Indexes off: Dow 0.72 pct, S&P 0.58 pct, Nasdaq 0.33 pct (Updates to afternoon, adds commentary)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were lower on Wednesday, putting indexes on track for a second straight day of declines after a recent rally, with healthcare stocks the only bright spot after a U.S. Supreme Court hearing and a cancer drug approval.
Equities had surged in February and both the Dow and S&P hit record highs on Monday, when the Nasdaq surpassed the 5,000 level for the first time in 15 years.
“The markets are in a wait-and-see mode after hitting record highs,” said Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist and director of asset allocation at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta.
There is a flurry of economic data due in the rest of the week, culminating with the Labor Department’s February payrolls report, which investors will use to gauge the timing of the first Federal Reserve interest rate hike in years.
The S&P 500 healthcare index was up 0.22 percent as investors bet that the Supreme Court may lean toward the Obama administration’s view on the Affordable Care Act after the court heard a second major challenge to the law.
“I think that hearing assuaged fears - at least for now - that we were headed for overturning of Obamacare,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.
Bristol Myers Squibb shares surged 4.2 percent to $64.43, making it the biggest driver for the broader S&P 500, after U.S. health regulators approved its Opdivo treatment for lung cancer.
Other healthcare movers included HCA Holdings, up 5.4 percent to $74.61, and Tenet Healthcare, which rose 4.3 percent to $49.10.
The U.S. economy continued to expand across most regions and sectors from early January through mid-February, the Fed said Wednesday in its Beige Book report.
Earlier in the day, other data continued to point to a slowly accelerating U.S. economy, increasing the likelihood the Fed will hike interest rates at some point this year.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 212,000 jobs in February, short of the 220,000 forecast, although January’s reading was revised upward. Readings on the services sector from Markit and the Institute for Supply Management both pointed to modest growth.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 130.75 points, or 0.72 percent, to 18,072.62, the S&P 500 lost 12.2 points, or 0.58 percent, to 2,095.58 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.53 points, or 0.33 percent, to 4,963.37.
Abercombie & Fitch slumped 14.3 percent to $20.55 after the teen apparel retailer’s quarterly profit fell by a third. American Eagle Outfitters rose 7.3 percent to $15.90 after better-than-expected fourth quarter sales.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,941 to 1,058, for a 1.83-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,590 issues fell and 1,084 advanced, for a 1.47-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 was posting 15 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 63 new highs and 44 new lows. (Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch and Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)