* Virgin America surges on buyout deal with Alaska Air
* Edwards Lifesciences up on heart-valve implant study
* Indexes down: Dow 0.13 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct (Updates to open)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
April 4 (Reuters) - Wall Street was little changed on Monday as a fall in oil prices hit materials stocks, offsetting a rise in healthcare shares.
Crude prices were slightly lower as hopes that top oil producers would reach an agreement to help tackle a stubborn global glut faded.
Investors have also been skittish following U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s comments last week urging caution on raising rates, which were in contrast with remarks made by some policymakers supporting more aggressive stance on rates.
While the Fed’s projections point to two rate hikes this year, traders expect only one, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch program.
“I think people are still kind of nervous of the U.S. economy, global economy and the election. That uncertainty is going to remain with us,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Brown expects stocks to trade mostly sideways and within a tight range heading into the corporate earnings season, as investors remain wary of the uncertainty plaguing the markets.
At 9:41 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was down 22.39 points, or 0.13 percent, at 17,770.36, the S&P 500 was down 2.09 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,070.69 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 4.38 points, or 0.09 percent, at 4,910.16.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 0.64 percent decline in the materials sector.
Healthcare stocks’ 0.46 percent rise helped limit losses. The sector was boosted by an increase in shares of Edwards Lifesciences.
Shares of the medical device maker rose nearly 16 percent to $103.91 after a study showed a less-invasive heart-valve implant was superior to open surgery, prompting a slew of brokerages to raise their ratings on the stock.
Data on Monday is expected to show factory orders fell 1.7 percent in February, after rising 1.6 percent the previous month. The report is due at 10 a.m. ET (1400 GMT).
Virgin America surged 40.4 percent to $54.63, after the company agreed to be bought by Alaska Air for about $2.60 billion. Alaska Air shares were down 4.9 percent at $77.98.
Tesla rose 4 percent to $247 after the electric carmaker said orders for its new Model 3 sedan rose than 253,000 in the first 36 hours.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,678 to 977. On the Nasdaq, 1,242 issues fell and 1,074 rose.
The S&P 500 index showed 45 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 31 new highs and seven new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)