May 11, 2020 / 5:29 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-S&P 500 edges higher as tech, healthcare shares shine

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* Marriott drops as profit misses lowered estimates

* Cardinal Heath surges as pandemic drives sales

* Under Armour slumps on warning sales could halve

* Indexes: Dow off 0.20%, S&P up 0.14%, Nasdaq climbs 0.74% (Adds details, quote; Updates prices)

By Medha Singh

May 11 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ticked higher on Monday as gains in healthcare and technology stocks countered losses in financials, while investors kept an eye on new coronavirus cases as several countries ease lockdowns.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was headed for its sixth straight day of gains, while the Dow Jones index slipped about 0.2%.

Technology and healthcare, the best performing sectors this year, rose 0.5% and 1.4% each. Financials, which tend to lag when the economic outlook darkens, declined 1.5%.

“Markets want to believe that later on this year we’re going to be in a better position. Definitely not right now, but we are moving towards that direction,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

Hopes of a pickup in business activity have powered a strong rally on Wall Street from March lows, and the Nasdaq is now up more than 2% this year.

The tech-heavy index is now just 6.6% below its February record high, but analysts have warned of another selloff as macroeconomic data gets worse, foreshadowing a deep and lasting global recession.

Earlier in the day, news of a surge in new COVID-19 cases in Germany and South Korea weighed on sentiment.

“We think it’s likely a stretch for investors to chase the move much higher from here,” said Eoin Murray, head of investment at Federated Hermes.

After financial markets began pricing in negative U.S. interest rates for the first time ever last week, all eyes will be on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s outlook on the economy at a webcast event on Wednesday.

At 1:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 48.67 points, or 0.20%, at 24,282.65, the S&P 500 was up 4.16 points, or 0.14%, at 2,933.96. The Nasdaq Composite was up 67.58 points, or 0.74%, at 9,188.90.

Drug distributor Cardinal Health Inc jumped 6.5% as the pandemic drove a surge in third-quarter sales, which topped market estimates.

Marriott International Inc shed 4.3% after the hotel operator’s quarterly profit fell short of already drastically lowered expectations.

Athletic apparel maker Under Armour Inc slumped 9.6% after it forecast a 50% to 60% drop in second-quarter revenue, while General Mills Inc rose 1.8% after it said it expects to surpass its own expectations for fiscal 2020 organic sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.80-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 87 new highs and 10 new lows. (Reporting by Medha Singh, Sruthi Shankar and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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