April 4, 2016 / 3:32 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St flat as investors pause after rally

* Virgin America surges on buyout deal with Alaska Air

* Edwards Lifesciences up on heart-valve implant study

* Indexes down: Dow 0.27 pct, S&P 0.30 pct, Nasdaq 0.39 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)

By Abhiram Nandakumar

April 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were largely unchanged on Monday in muted trading, with gains in healthcare shares offsetting a fall in consumer stocks, as investors took a breather from a recent rally that helped indexes recover from a selloff at the start of the year.

Crude prices were hovering near their lowest levels in a month as hopes that top oil producers would reach an agreement to help tackle a stubborn global glut faded.

Investors have 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.

The Fed is likely to raise rates before current market expectation since overseas risks to the U.S. economy are fading, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said on Monday.

While the Fed’s projections point to two rate hikes this year, traders expect only one, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch program.

“We’ve been fairly quiet in the markets today,” said Michael Baughen, global investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank in Tampa.

“Today’s (stock market) decline is mild and doesn’t have anything causing it, other than maybe a lack of catalysts.”

Baughen said the market was likely to trade sideways for the rest of the week and that catalysts for stocks would come from the upcoming corporate earnings season.

At 10:58 a.m. ET (1458 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 47.25 points, or 0.27 percent, at 17,745.5, the S&P 500 was down 6.3 points, or 0.3 percent, at 2,066.48 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 19.05 points, or 0.39 percent, at 4,895.49.

A rebound in oil and encouraging economic data helped Wall Street recover from a steep selloff at the start of the year.

Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 0.76 percent decline in the consumer discretionary sector.

Healthcare stocks’ 0.77 percent rise helped limit losses. The sector was boosted by Edwards Lifesciences.

Shares of the medical device maker rose 16.8 percent to $105 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.

Virgin America surged 40.8 percent to $54.79, after the airline agreed to be bought by Alaska Air for about $2.60 billion. Alaska Air shares were down 5.6 percent at $77.43.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,955 to 926. On the Nasdaq, 1,382 issues fell and 1,213 rose.

The S&P 500 index showed 51 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and 13 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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