Biotech and health care stocks looked like they needed a transfusion of market confidence Monday, as for the second session in a row, their performance was anemic. Investors are trying to determine if we're at the start of a longer-term rotation out of the group, or whether those falling values only reflect a surge of profit-taking.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 26 points, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 9, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) slid 50 points.
A lot of big-name tech stocks led the Nasdaq's decline. Netflix (NFLX) dropped nearly 7 percent, Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Twitter (TWTR) all lost about 4 percent. Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Priceline (PCLN) and Yahoo (YHOO) all lost about 3 percent. Tesla (TSLA) was also a drag on the Nasdaq, losing 5 percent.
And another recent high-flier -– the cyber-security firm FireEye (FEYE) -- fell 7 percent. However, even though it has lost ground this month, the stock is still up 80 percent from a year ago.
But Apple (AAPL) bucked the downtrend, gaining more than 1 percent. The Wall Street Journal says it's working on a deal with cable giant Comcast (CMCSK) involving a streaming TV service, and there are reports that Apple is about to launch an iTunes radio app for Android users. That pressured Pandora (P), which fell 8 percent.
As for the biotech sector, it was across the board selling. Amgen (AMGN) fell 1 percent and Biogen (BIIB) lost 2 percent.
In the health care and pharmaceutical sector, Incyte (INCY) dropped 7 percent, Alexion (ALXN) down 6 percent, and Pharmacyclics (PCYC) down 4 percent. Even the big boys took a hit. Pfizer (PFE) lost 2 percent Merck (MRK) lost 1 percent.
Even though it was a down day, there were some gainers. Among the blue chips, high-dividend paying companies did well. Procter & Gamble (PG) gained nearly 2 percent. JPMorgan (JPM) and IBM (IBM) both gained 1 percent.
Elsewhere, Nu-Skin (NUS) jumped 18 percent as sanctions by Chinese regulators were milder than expected. And Lions Gate (LGF) rose 3 percent after "Divergent" enjoyed a strong opening weekend at the box office.
What to Watch Tuesday:
Standard & Poor's releases the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices for January at 9 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m., the Commerce Department releases new home sales for February, and the Conference Board releases the Consumer Confidence Index for March.
These major companies are scheduled to report quarterly financial results:
Five Below (FIVE)
G-III Apparel (GIII)
McCormick & Co. (MKC)
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.