* November jobs data expected this week
* ECB expected to unveil monetary easing measures
* Yellen’s speech in focus
* Indexes down: Dow 0.04 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct (Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
Nov 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were modestly lower in late afternoon trading Monday amid declines in health and consumer discretionary shares, though energy shares rose.
Still, the three major equity indexes were poised to end higher for a second straight month.
Retail stocks continued to be in focus on Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.
Target shares were down 1.2 percent at $72.56 after its Web site faced an outage due to heavy traffic.
Data showed that other retailers’ website were also affected, including that of Foot Locker, which was down 1.9 percent, and L Brands‘s, which fell 1.3 percent. The S&P retail index was down 0.6 percent.
The S&P health sector’s 1 percent fall led the decliners, hurt by biotech stocks. The S&P energy index gained 0.6 percent, though oil prices were little changed.
Market participants were anticipating Friday’s non-farm payrolls report, which comes ahead of a mid-December policy meeting of the Federal Reserve. Economists polled by Reuters expect the economy to have added 200,000 jobs in November.
While the U.S. central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates in December for the first time since 2006, the European Central Bank is expected to unveil fresh monetary easing measures on Thursday.
“People are going to be wondering about the Fed and whether a possible rate increase has been discounted by the market already,” said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 6.64 points, or 0.04 percent, to 17,791.85, the S&P 500 lost 1.21 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,088.9 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.37 points, or 0.09 percent, to 5,123.16.
Investors will look for any hints relating to the Fed’s impending policy decision when Chair Janet Yellen speaks on the economic outlook Wednesday and in testimony on the economy before the congressional Joint Economic Committee on Thursday.
Other U.S. data expected during the week includes manufacturing and auto sales data for November.
Among other retailers, Staples fell 1.8 percent to $12.08 after the New York Post reported that U.S. antitrust regulators were preparing to block Staples’ acquisition of smaller rival Office Depot. Office Depot was down 2.4 percent at $6.60.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,598 to 1,438, for a 1.11-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,434 issues fell and 1,352 advanced for a 1.06-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 108 new highs and 37 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Bernadette Baum)