Earnings drive gains for United States stocks in afternoon trading

E-mini S&P 500 Index

Daily March E-mini S&P 500 Index

The S&P health sector tumbled 1.8 percent, the most among the 11 major sectors. It is still up 5.57 percent on the year.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR said: "We've had a unilateral move higher [in stocks] to start things off and people are realising this is not sustainable".

Fourth-quarter earnings growth for the S&P 500 is now estimated at 13.2 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters data, up from 12 per cent at the start of the year. The 10-year Treasury yield, which move opposite price, receded on Wednesday after hitting 2.73% the day before for the first time in almost four years.

United States stocks spent most of January on a almost uninterrupted climb to ever-higher records, but have fallen this week.

The Nasdaq is down 94.29 points, or 1.3 percent.

Others may be anxious about the prospect of higher interest rates, which would drive bond yields higher.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.2%, pressured by declines in shares of utilities and real-estate companies. Investors expect them to benefit from rising interest rates. This week yields have hovered at the highest level since April 2014. The day began with three giants of American business - Amazon (founded by The Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos), Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase - teaming up to announce an ambitious yet vague effort to tackle USA health-care costs. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.73 percent from 2.72 percent late Tuesday.

Shares of utilities and real-estate companies, considered by many investors to be bondlike due to their relatively hefty dividends, were among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500, falling alongside U.S. Treasury prices.

The Federal Reserve's two-day meeting ends on Wednesday and its statement at 2 p.m. ET is expected to signal a gradual tightening of monetary policy later this year as the US economy continues to expand and job gains remain solid.

The report added to growing concerns around weak sales of the US$999 (RM3,887) phone ahead of Apple reporting it quarterly results on Thursday.

On the futures market the SPI is 3 points down.

Despite this week's slide, the Dow is still up more than 5% in January. There were predictions during Monday's decline that the fallback could be as much as 10 percent in coming days.

"Investors have continually asked what unexpected development might spoil the strong investor sentiment towards managed care", BMO Capital Markets healthcare analyst Matthew Borsch said in a note.

"In 2017, the US market was up over 22 percent, as measured by the S&P 500 index without experiencing a single month when the market declined - the first time this has happened since 1958", Norman said in a one-page paper. "However, trend is more "frenemy" than friend and can change course quickly".

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