* U.S. core capital goods orders slip in February
* Walgreens biggest drag on main U.S. indexes
* Airline stocks take off on Delta’s upbeat forecast
* Dow off 0.41%, S&P down 0.12%, Nasdaq up 0.06% (Updates to early afternoon)
By Sruthi Shankar
April 2 (Reuters) - A three-day surge in U.S. stocks stalled on Tuesday, as a downbeat forecast from drugstore chain Walgreens Boots hit the pharma sector and economic data did little to ease growth concerns.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was dragged down by a 12.2% slump in Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc after the company cut its 2019 profit growth forecast and reported a quarterly profit that missed analysts’ estimates.
The S&P consumer staples index was down 0.7%, leading declines among nine of the 11 major S&P sectors that were down. Rival CVS Health Corp fell 3%, while shares of several drug wholesalers also took a hit.
Data showed new orders for key U.S.-made capital goods slipped in February and shipments were flat.
Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, or core capital goods orders, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 0.1%. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast it to remain unchanged.
The data comes on the heels of a survey showing a surprise rebound in China’s manufacturing activity and better-than-expected U.S. numbers, which drove the S&P 500 to near six-month highs on Monday.
“We’ve gotten to a place and time where we are going to need new evidence to move this market higher,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.
“Incrementally better-than-expected data might move this market higher, which was not the case in today’s durable goods number.”
At 12:43 p.m. ET, the Dow was down 106.92 points, or 0.41%, at 26,151.50 and the S&P 500 was down 3.47 points, or 0.12%, at 2,863.72.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 4.89 points, or 0.06%, at 7,833.80, boosted by a 2.8% jump in Facebook Inc.
Despite coming under pressure, the S&P 500 is 2.4% away from a record closing high hit in late September, held back by trade uncertainties, the Federal Reserve’s plans to end monetary policy tightening, Britain’s chaotic exit from the European Union and concerns about corporate profit growth.
With the first-quarter corporate earnings reporting season about two weeks away, investors are bracing for what may be the first U.S. profit decline since 2016. Analysts expect quarterly earnings to fall 2%, according to Refinitiv data.
Airline stocks got a lift from Delta Air Lines Inc’s better-than-expected first-quarter profit forecast. Its shares jumped 6.5%, while the Dow Jones US Airlines index was up 3.2%.
Dow Inc was up 4.7% in its stock market debut following the spin off from DowDuPont.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.71-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.30-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 31 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and 33 new lows. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)