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By Noel Randewich
(Reuters) - The S&P 500 closed lower on Tuesday while the Nasdaq edged up to a record high, as investors balanced worries about the slowing pace of economic recovery with expectations that the Federal Reserve will maintain its accommodative monetary policy.
Amgen Inc fell 2.1% and Merck & Co lost 1.6% after Morgan Stanley cut its rating on the stocks to "equal-weight" from "overweight."
The Nasdaq was supported by Big Tech stocks that have fueled Wall Street's gains in recent years. Apple rose 1.6% and Netflix added 2.7%, both hitting record highs.
"You could call it a gravitation toward Big Tech. As people feel a bit uncertain about how COVID will play out, you don’t have your reopening worries with those companies," said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta.
Much of the rest of Wall Street fell. Eight of the eleven sub-indexes traded lower, with economy-sensitive sectors like industrials down 1.8% and utilities dipping 1.4%. The real estate index lost 1.1%.
Tepid August payrolls data on Friday last week raised concerns that the economic recovery was slowing down.
On Tuesday, Morgan Stanley cut its rating on U.S. stocks to underweight, pointing to risks related to economic growth, policy and legislation, and warning it expects the next two months to be "bumpy."
Accommodative central bank policies and reopening optimism have pushed the S&P 500 and Nasdaq to record highs over the past few weeks, but concerns are growing about rising coronavirus infections due to the Delta variant and its impact on the economic recovery.
Analysts on average expect S&P 500 companies to increase their earnings per share by 30% in the September quarter, following a 96% surge in the second quarter, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.
Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.76% to end at 35,100 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.34% to 4,520.03.
The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.07% to 15,374.33.
The S&P 500 remains up about 20% year to date, and the Nasdaq is up about 19%.
Boeing Co dropped 1.8% after Ireland's Ryanair said it had ended talks with the planemaker over a purchase of 737 MAX 10 jets worth tens of billions of dollars due to differences over price.
Match Group Inc jumped over 7% after the S&P Dow Jones Indices said on Friday the Tinder parent will join the benchmark index.
Columbia Property Trust Inc surged 15% after Pacific Investment Management Company said it would buy the company for $2.2 billion.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.2 billion shares, compared with the 9.0 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.27-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.65-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 19 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 120 new highs and 24 new lows.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Additional reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Arun Koyyur; Editing by Aurora Ellis)