* Fisher: Fed should cut bond buys next month unless data worsens
* Travelers and United Tech rank as Dow’s top two decliners
* Investors watch for catalysts after last week’s record highs
* Dow down 0.4 pct, S&P 500 off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq off 0.03 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, Aug 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday, retreating from last week’s record highs and mostly extending their declines after a top Federal Reserve official said the central bank is closer to curbing its bond purchases.
The losses steepened in early afternoon trading after Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said the Fed should cut its massive bond-buying program next month, unless economic data takes a decided turn for the worse.
“It’s a minor move in the market because we knew that this was Fisher. If Bullard came out and said this, then that would’ve created a huge move,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.
“It’s a guessing game every day because different speakers have different opinions.”
While Fisher has held reservations about the Fed’s bond- buying program, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard has said he is not prepared to start reducing the stimulus program, adding that there needs to be more economic data before moving to taper.
Blue chips were the day’s top decliners, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.4 percent and underperforming the broader market. Shares of The Travelers Companies Inc and United Technologies Corp were the Dow’s top decliners. Travelers shares fell 1.1 percent to $83.07. United Technologies shares slid 1.1 percent to $106.63.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 55.04 points, or 0.35 percent, at 15,603.32. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 3.53 points, or 0.21 percent, at 1,706.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.02 points, or 0.03 percent, at 3,688.57.
The S&P 500 has risen for five of the past six weeks, gaining more than 7 percent over that period. The index closed at an all-time high on Friday despite a disappointing read on the labor market, which showed that hiring slowed in July.
Given that advance, further gains may be hard to come by at these levels, especially with the earnings season almost over.
“After last week with several big market-moving events, this week is probably all about trading sideways. But the market does seem to be in a bullish mood and in the absence of bad news, it will hold these levels and move slowly higher,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at the Schwab Center for Financial Research in Austin, Texas.
On the earnings front, shares of Tyson Foods climbed 4.1 percent to $29.68 after giving a full-year revenue outlook that was above expectations.
In contrast, U.S.-listed shares of HSBC Holdings Plc fell 4.4 percent to $55.40 after the company reported a drop in revenue, hurt by slower emerging markets.
Of the 391 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the second quarter, 67.8 percent have topped analysts’ expectations, in line with the average beat over the past four quarters, data from Thomson Reuters showed. About 55 percent have reported revenue above estimates, more than in the past four quarters but below the historical average.
In the latest snapshot of the U.S. services sector, the Institute for Supply Management’s July non-manufacturing index came in at 56, above expectations for a reading of 53 and exceeding the previous month’s level of 52.2. The data had little impact on stocks.
While the recent payrolls report was weaker than expected, some investors were encouraged that it meant the U.S. Federal Reserve was more likely to hold steady with its monetary stimulus, which has contributed to the S&P 500’s gain of almost 20 percent this year.
Big tech names like Apple and Facebook supported the Nasdaq. Apple Inc shot up 1.5 percent to $469.44. Facebook Inc jumped 2.5 percent to $38.99.
In the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, U.S.-listed shares of Compugen Ltd soared 47 percent to $8.02 after the company said it would enter into a cancer research partnership with Bayer AG.