January 8, 2018 / 8:20 PM / a year ago

US STOCKS-Wall St slightly higher, but healthcare, bank stocks weigh

* Defensive sectors show S&P’s biggest gains after weekly decline

* Caterpillar at record high after brokerage upgrade

* Nasdaq biotech index on track for its worst day since mid Dec.

* GoPro plunges to new lows after sales warning

* Dow down 0.13 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.17 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary, changes byline)

By Sinead Carew

Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. equities edged higher on Monday as investors took stock after the strong rally that marked the start of 2018, but healthcare and bank shares weighed on Wall Street’s three major indexes.

Investors were focused on making marginal moves within their portfolios on a slow news day after the rally and before earnings season, said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group in Minneapolis.

“The news lies ahead in terms of economic reports, earnings and earnings warnings. In the meantime, you’ll take advantage of some of the price action,” said Paulsen.

At 3:02 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.23 points, or 0 percent, to 25,297.1, the S&P 500 gained 4.21 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,747.36 and the Nasdaq Composite added 18.17 points, or 0.25 percent, to 7,154.73.

The S&P 500’s healthcare sector was the weakest performer of the S&P’s 11 sectors with a 0.5-percent decline on the first day of JP Morgan annual healthcare conference in San Francisco. It had risen 3.2 percent in the previous week.

The Nasdaq biotech index was down 1.4 percent, on track for its biggest one-day percentage decline since mid-December, led by a 3.9-percent drop in Biogen and 3.2 percent decline in Regeneron.

A 0.4-percent decline in the bank subsector put pressure on the broader financials index, which was down 0.1 percent.

Investors waited for the fourth-quarter earnings reports to gauge the impact of recent tax cuts. The earnings season kicks off later this week, starting with big banks.

Wells Fargo and Citigroup were down 1 percent. Most big U.S. lenders have estimated one-off charges to their fourth quarter earnings on account of tax cuts.

Defensive sectors such as utilities, real estate and telecommunications regained some ground lost in the previous week and were the S&P’s biggest gainers on the day.

Caterpillar climbed 2.7 percent to a record at $165.55 after JP Morgan upgraded the stock saying the tax overhaul could help North America’s construction business cycle extend in 2018.

Kohl’s Corp was up 5 percent. The department store operator posted far stronger same-store sales for the holidays than its bigger peers.

Nvidia was up 3.9 percent after the graphics chipmaker announced partnership with Uber and Volkswagen as its artificial intelligence platforms expand into technology for self-driving cars.

GoPro shares were last down 15 percent at $6.41. Earlier in the day, it had lost about a third of its value and hit a record low at $5.04 after saying it expected lower fourth-quarter revenue and that it would exit the drone business.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.03-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 91 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 112 new highs and 24 new lows. (Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Nick Zieminski)

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