* Apple leads tech sector lower; S&P tech index off 1 pct
* Among top decliners are stocks that gained most in 2013
* Indexes off: Dow 0.5 pct; S&P 0.6 pct; Nasdaq 0.6 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Jan 2 U.S. stocks fell Thursday on
their first day of trading in 2014 as investors booked profit in
the wake of the S&P 500's best yearly advance since 1997.
Shares of Apple Inc fell 1.3 percent to $555.59,
leading a decline in technology stocks, after Wells Fargo cut
its rating on the iPad and iPhone maker to "market perform" from
"outperform". Apple was the biggest drag on both the S&P 500 and
Nasdaq 100 indexes.
The S&P technology index fell 1 percent, the
biggest decliner among the 10 major S&P sectors.
Among the stocks that fell the most Thursday were those that
had enjoyed the best gains in 2013, including Netflix,
which was down 1.4 percent at $363.01, and Micron Tech Inc
, which was off 0.7 percent at $21.59.
Netflix was the biggest gainer of last year with a hefty
return of 296.4 percent while Micron Tech skyrocketed 236
percent, according to data by Schaeffer's Investment Research.
Conversely, last year's biggest losers were among those that
were in favor with investors and racked up the best gains on
Thursday. Newmont Mining Corp was up 4.3 percent at
$24.03 after losing 51 percent in value in 2013.
In economic data, an index of national factory activity
stood at 57.0 last month, in line with economists' forecast but
a touch below November's 2-1/2-year high of 57.3.
Other data included weekly initial claims which slipped for
a second week, to 339,000, suggesting labor market conditions
continued to steadily improve.
In another sign of economic improvement, financial data firm
Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers
Index rose to 55.0 in December, beating November's 54.7 reading.
"(The market is) definitely taking a bit of a breather in
looking for the new catalyst, looking for the next investment
theme to unfold," said Anastasia Amoroso, Global Market
Strategist with J.P. Morgan Funds in New York.
"It's a slow coming back to life and a slow start to the new
year but it's also important to look past one day of data points
and what we think is going to be a continuation of a cyclical
expansion in the United States and elsewhere."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 83.48 points,
or 0.5 percent, to 16,493.18, the S&P 500 lost 10.52
points, or 0.57 percent, to 1,837.84 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 26.47 points, or 0.63 percent, to 4,150.12.
The S&P 500 closed 2013 with a spectacular 29.6
percent gain for the year, its best annual performance since
1997, adding $3.75 trillion in market value. The Dow
surged 26.5 percent in its best year since 1995. The Nasdaq
jumped 38.3 percent, its best year since 2009.
In a note to clients, Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity
strategist at Citigroup, boosted his year-end 2014 target for
the S&P 500 to 1,975 from 1,900, citing earnings progress as the
Trading volume Thursday is expected to remain light, with
many market participants away during the holiday-abbreviated
week. Markets were closed Wednesday for New Year's Day.