* Financial sector set for worst day in nearly three weeks
* Goldman Sachs weighs on Dow
* Cognizant rises after board deal with Elliott, results
* Dow down 0.19 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.02 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Feb 8 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite index were little changed on Wednesday, while the Dow was pressured by losses in bank stocks.
The financial index dropped 1 percent and was on track to mark its biggest drop in three weeks due to declines in JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.
Analysts say market is reducing expectations for the number of U.S. interest rate hikes this year as well as for fiscal stimulus policies and tax cuts from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Goldman Sachs fell 1.1 percent and was the biggest drag on the Dow.
The dollar slipped 0.14 percent, while gold rose to a near three-month high amid political uncertainty in Europe ahead of elections.
At 12:24 p.m. ET (1724 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 38.02 points, or 0.19 percent, at 20,052.27 and the S&P 500 was down 0.17 points, or flat, at 2,292.91. The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.07 points, or 0.02 percent, at 5,675.28.
Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by gains in technology and consumer discretionary stocks.
Cognizant rose 4 percent to $55.93 after the IT services provider named three directors to its board and announced a $3.4 billion share buyback program, bowing to pressure from activist shareholder Elliott Management.
Healthcare was off 0.29 percent, dragged down by Gilead. The drugmaker’s stock, which also weighed on the S&P and the Nasdaq, slid 9.7 percent after the company projected disappointing sales for its hepatitis C drugs this year.
U.S. carrier Alaska Air rose 2 percent to $96.06 after the company reported a 10.7 percent jump in quarterly revenue.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,490 to 1,370. On the Nasdaq, 1,746 issues fell and 997 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 16 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 67 new highs and 40 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)