August 8, 2016 / 5:11 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-S&P 500 slips as health stocks weigh

* S&P 0.2 pct away from record high

* Drugmakers Bristol-Myers, Allergan, Merck drop

* Indexes down: Dow 0.12 pct, S&P 0.09 pct, Nasdaq 0.19 pct (Updates to early afternoon)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

Aug 8 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 index failed to hold on to its gains after touching a record high on Monday as a drop in healthcare stocks offset the impact of higher oil prices and a strong jobs report.

The S&P 500 healthcare index lost nearly 1 percent, while the Nasdaq biotech index was off 0.8 percent.

However, oil prices rose 2.5 percent after a report in the Wall Street Journal last week that some OPEC members had called for a freeze in production.

The S&P and the Nasdaq closed at record highs on Friday after data showed that the U.S. economy added 255,000 jobs in July, way more than 180,000 that analysts had estimated.

“You know the old saying: ‘Buy on the rumor, sell on the news.’ So I wouldn’t say today’s movement is particularly surprising,” said Melissa Brown, senior director of applied research at Axioma in New York.

“The markets have been up a lot so it seems like the employment report has already been reflected in stock prices.”

Investors also fretted about an earnings recession in S&P 500 companies likely spilling into the sixth straight quarter.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect third-quarter earnings to fall 0.2 percent as of Monday. They had estimated a 0.2 percent rise on Aug. 3.

At 12:27 p.m. ET (1627 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 21.88 points, or 0.12 percent, at 18,521.65.

The S&P 500 was down 1.95 points, or 0.09 percent, at 2,180.92.

The Nasdaq Composite was down 10.15 points, or 0.19 percent, at 5,210.97.

Five of the 10 major S&P 500 indexes were lower, with the healthcare index losing the most, while the energy index gained 1.46 percent.

Bristol-Myers fell for the second straight day, shedding 4.4 percent, after its lung-cancer drug failed a key late-stage study on Friday. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P 500.

Merck, which makes a rival drug, fell 2 percent. The stock had rallied 10 percent on Friday, following the news on Bristol-Myers’ drug.

Allergan lost 2.8 percent after it slashed its full-year revenue forecast and said it was not looking to use its surplus cash to fund any deals.

Pfizer, which had terminated a deal to buy Allergan in April, fell 1.6 percent.

Oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron rose 0.7 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange by 1,732 to 1,167. On the Nasdaq, 1,395 issues fell and 1,363 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 28 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 85 new highs and 12 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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