4 Min Read
* TJX, Staples fall on results
* Pfizer down after Citi cuts to "sell"
* Microsoft leads technology sector gainers
* Dow down 0.04 pct, S&P down 0.14 pct, Nasdaq up 0.17 pct (Updates to late afternoon, changes byline)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 was down slightly on Tuesday after a slew of mixed economic data and earnings while the Nasdaq hit another record as it was boosted by gains in technology stocks.
U.S. manufacturing production showed its biggest increase in more than three years for April, bolstering a view that economic growth picked up early in the second quarter despite a surprise decline in homebuilding.
While home improvement chain Home Depot reported a better-than-expected first-quarter performance, TJX Cos Inc, the owner of T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores, posted slowing comparable-store sales growth and a disappointing current-quarter profit forecast.
The news was not positive enough to boost investment nor so negative as to make investors flee stocks and rush into bonds, according to Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis.
"It's a combination of earnings and better than expected industrial production countered with concerns about future economic data and the fact we continue to see weak retail sales," said Warne.
"With the consumer being more than two-thirds of economic growth, if consumer spending is weak, can we continue to see solid economic growth?"
Investors were also cautious about potential delays to the government's tax and regulation reform agenda after reports late Monday that President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation.
At 2:36PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 7.35 points, or 0.04 percent, to 20,974.59. The S&P 500 had lost 3.48 points, or 0.14 percent, to 2,398.84 easing from an all-time high of 2,405.77.
The Nasdaq Composite had added 10.43 points, or 0.17 percent, to 6,160.11 after touching a record of 6,163.74.
Only three of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were positive, with the technology sector providing the biggest boost. It was up 0.3 percent, and its biggest driver was Microsoft, which was up 1.7 percent.
"A lot of technology right now is driven by worries about cyber security as investors believe more companies will have to upgrade their computer systems and add security," said Warne.
The security industry was reeling after the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries since Friday.
The energy sector was the biggest percentage decliner after rising sharply in Monday's session.
Pfizer was the S&P's biggest drag on the S&P with a 2 percent drop to $32.45 after Citigroup downgraded the drug developer's stock to "sell" from "neutral".
Staples was off 3.7 percent at $8.97 after the office supplies retailer reported a decline in quarterly sales. Home Depot shares were up 1 percent at $159.05 while TJX was down 3.9 percent at $73.88.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.47-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, decliners led advancers 1.31 to 1.
The S&P 500 posted 58 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 119 new highs and 57 new lows. (Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Cynthia Osterman)