Wall St. little changed in early trading; oil skids

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By Tanya Agrawal and Anya George Tharakan
U.S. stocks were little changed in early trading on Tuesday as a sharp drop in oil prices weighed on energy stocks, while a rise in healthcare stocks helped limit losses.

Oil fell nearly 4 percent as major exporters struggled to agree to a production freeze to reduce global oversupply ahead of an OPEC meeting on Wednesday. [O/R]

All components of the S&P energy index .SPNY, which led the decliners with a 2 percent fall, were in the red.

Oil major Chevron (CVX.N) was down 1.1 percent, while Exxon (XOM.N) slipped 0.7 percent. The stocks were among the biggest drags on the Dow and the S&P.

U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, their worst performance in nearly a month, as investors booked profits on the heels of a record-setting week.

Wall Street has rallied since Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election as investors expect his plans to increase infrastructure spending, cut corporate taxes and reduce regulation to boost the economy.

“I believe that the strong rally has played out, and now we’re going to have a choppy market,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital.

“The market is looking for a keyhole view into a Trump economic world and until we get clarity, we’re going to have choppy behavior.”

Data showed the U.S. economy grew faster than initially thought in the third quarter.

Gross domestic product increased at a 3.2 percent annual rate instead of the previously reported 2.9 percent pace, the Commerce Department said in its second GDP estimate.

At 9:44 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 7.23 points, or 0.04 percent, at 19,090.67.

The S&P 500 .SPX was up 0.41 points, or 0.02 percent, at 2,202.13.

The Nasdaq Composite index .IXIC was up 7.25 points, or 0.14 percent, at 5,376.07.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, with the healthcare index’s .SPXHC 0.63 percent rise leading the advancers.

UnitedHealth’s (UNH.N) 2.1 percent rise helped boost the sector.

Fed Governor Jerome Powell will speak on the economic outlook in Indiana at 12:40 p.m. ET.

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