U.S. SHARES FALL FROM RECORD HIGHS AS QUARTERLY EARNINGS REPORTS LOOM

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NEW YORK — Wall Street fell from record levels yesterday as gains in Microsoft and other technology stocks failed to offset a drop in General Electric and a slide in healthcare stocks.

The S&P healthcare index moved 0.67 per cent lower, weighed by a 3.61-per-cent slide in Medtronic after the medical device maker warned that its quarterly profit would be impacted after Hurricane Maria hit its operations in Puerto Rico.

The S&P 500 has rallied 14 per cent in 2017 and last week hit record highs, buoyed by strong company earnings and enthusiasm that President Donald Trump will cut corporate taxes.

JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup will report profits on Thursday, kicking third-quarter corporate reporting season into high gear as investors look for strong growth to justify pricey valuations.

“Unlike the restaurant chains, movie chains and homebuilders and some of the discretionary stocks hurt by the hurricanes, I don’t expect the banks to be affected by the non-recurring blips during the quarter,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Overall, earnings at S&P 500 companies are expected to have increased 4.8 per cent last quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, down from the double-digit growth recorded in the first two quarters of this year.

GE shares sank 3.94 per cent after the conglomerate named a new CFO and said it gave activist investment firm Trian Fund Management a board seat.

Nvidia rose 2.26 per cent and the S&P 500 information technology index added 0.24 per cent, bringing its gain in 2017 to 28 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.06 per cent to end at 22,761.07, while the S&P 500 lost 0.18 per cent to 2,544.73.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.16 per cent to 6,579.73.

The CBOE Volatility index — Wall Street’s fear gauge — rose 0.77 point to 10.42, its highest in two weeks.

Shares of cinema stocks AMC Entertainment Holdings and Regal Entertainment fell more than 4 per cent after domestic opening weekend ticket sales for science fiction sequel Blade Runner 2049 fell short of expectations.

Also weighing on the healthcare sector, Express Scripts lost 5 per cent after Raymond James downgraded the stock to “underperform” from “market perform.”

Tesla fell 3.91 per cent after pushing back the unveiling of its big rig truck to mid-November.

Viacom slipped 6.37 per cent after Citigroup downgraded the stock to “sell,” citing risks that pay-TV firms would stop carrying its channels.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.21-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.49-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

About 4.4 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, well below the 6.1 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

— Reuters