US STOCKS-Wall St edges lower as technology, energy stocks drag

Reuters

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    * U.S. crude down more than $1 
    * GE slides after JPMorgan cuts PT 
    * Dow down 0.36 pct, S&P 0.36 pct, Nasdaq 0.74 pct 

 (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)
    By Sruthi Shankar
    March 13 (Reuters) - Losses in technology and energy stocks
on Tuesday weakened Wall Street's strong opening gains following
U.S. consumer price data that eased worries about rising
inflation.
    All the three main indexes were lower in mid-day trading,
weighed down by a near 2 percent drop in shares of Microsoft
 MSFT.O , Facebook  FB.O  and Alphabet  GOOGL.O . 
    Energy stocks  .SPNY  fell 0.3 percent as oil prices slipped
to session low.  O/R  
    Earlier in the day, the markets took comfort from data that
showed U.S. consumer price growth slowed in February, an
indication that an anticipated pickup in inflation probably will
be only gradual.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1QU184
    "It certainly presents some more difficult questions for the
central bank if they look to embark on a more aggressive rate
hiking cycle next week," said Aaron Kohli, interest rate
strategist, BMO Capital Markets in New York.
    "How do they expect to get inflation materially higher if
they are already starting to see some signs of spotty weakness?"
        
    At 12:07 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI 
was down 89.92 points, or 0.36 percent, at 25,088.69.
    The S&P 500  .SPX  was down 10.23 points, or 0.367586
percent, at 2,772.79 and the Nasdaq Composite  .IXIC  was down
55.86 points, or 0.74 percent, at 7,532.47.
    U.S. Treasury yields fell in response to the data and news
that President Donald Trump had ousted Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson.  US/  
    Trump fired Tillerson after a series of public rifts over
issues including North Korea and Russia, replacing his chief
diplomat with loyalist CIA Director Mike Pompeo.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1QV0JE
    "The Tillerson news is new, it was Gary Cohn last week, the
market absorbs it and continues to go back to what's driving the
financial markets and it's probably fears around inflation and 
tariffs that are influencing the markets," said Rich Guerrini,
chief executive officer of PNC Investments in Pittsburgh. 
    The news comes just a week after the departure of Trump's
economic adviser Gary Cohn in the wake of a surprise turn
towards new trade tariffs on steel and aluminum.
    Trump also said he was considering conservative commentator
Larry Kudlow "very strongly" to become his next top economic
adviser.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N1QV0N1
    Among stocks, General Electric  GE.N  fell about 4 percent
after JPMorgan cut its price target on the stock to $11 from
$14, saying the industrial conglomerate was not a "safety stock"
in a volatile market.
    Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a
1.53-to-1 ratio and for a 1.27-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

 (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun
Koyyur)
 ((sruthi.shankar@thomsonreuters.com; within U.S. +1 646 223
8780; outside U.S. +91 80 6749 6328; Reuters Messaging:
sruthi.shankar.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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