NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended flat on Tuesday though the S&P 500 snapped three days of losses as financial and consumer staples shares bounced.
Shares of biotech companies were among the biggest drags, including Biogen (BIIB.O), down 1.1 percent at $382. The Nasdaq Biotech Index .NBI was down 0.7 percent.
The S&P financials .SPSY were up 0.3 percent, helped by prospects for higher interest rates, while S&P consumer staples .SPLRCS rose 0.5 percent, led by a 1.5 percent gain in Procter & Gamble (PG.N)
“People are sick of timing the Fed when it comes to this sector. People don’t want to miss the boat,” said Andrew Frankel, co-president of Stuart Frankel & Co in New York regarding the rise in financial shares.
Another batch of strong economic data underscored views that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates in September.
Data showed that U.S. job openings surged to a record high in April and small business confidence increased in May, signs that the economy was regaining momentum after stumbling at the start of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 2.51 points, or 0.01 percent, to 17,764.04, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.87 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,080.15 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 7.76 points, or 0.15 percent, to 5,013.87.
The Dow Jones transportation average .DJT ended down 0.3 percent, just shy of correction territory, which would be a drop of 10 percent from its Dec. 29, 2014, record close of 9,217.44.
“It’s a market that’s searching for a rationale at this point ... and waiting for next week’s (Fed) meeting,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, which is based in Newark, New Jersey.
Shares of Procter & Gamble climbed 1.5 percent to $78.90, leading gains in the staples sector, after Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter, reported late Monday that Henkel & Co (HNKG_p.DE) and Coty Inc (COTY.N) made binding offers to buy separate parts of Procter & Gamble Co’s beauty businesses.
Shares of Hovnanian Enterprises (HOV.N) dropped 9.8 percent to $2.86, the lowest since 2012, after disappointing results.
Lululemon (LULU.O) shares rose 11 percent to $68.27 after the Canadian yogawear retailer raised its full-year revenue and earnings forecast.
Sage Therapeutics (SAGE.O) jumped 15.4 percent to $86.71 after its experimental injectable drug was found to be effective in treating postpartum depression.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,976 to 1,066, for a 1.85-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,645 issues fell and 1,093 advanced for a 1.51-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 88 new highs and 46 new lows.
About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, about even with the 6.1 billion daily average for the month to date, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
Additional reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish