Wall Street dips at open as energy, healthcare stocks offset boost from Bofa results

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street was lower on Monday morning as a dip in energy and healthcare stocks more than offset the boost to financials from Bank of America strong results.

The S&P 500 financial index was the top boost to the benchmark index, rising 0.16 per cent after Bank of America reported its first profit rise in three quarter and also topped estimates. The stock was up 0.3 per cent.

Oil fell more than 1 per cent as a rising US rig count left investors worrying about the prolonged glut. The energy sector's 0.54 per cent drop was the steepest among the 11 S&P sectors. Declines in Merck and Anthem pulled down the healthcare sector 0.29 per cent.

With the third-quarter earnings kicking in in earnest this week, investors will be hoping corporate America's profits fare better in the second half of the year than they did in the first.

Earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to have dipped 0.4 per cent in the third quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data, but better-than-expected reports could shore up profits for the period.

"I think we're headed for a bumpy session with earnings leading the way," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.

At 9:44 a.m. ET (9:44 p.m Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 27.49 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 18,110.89. The S&P 500 was down 2.7 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 2,130.28 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 10.29 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5,203.87.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower. "It's also a jittery market ahead of the elections and of course the prospects of a rate hike in December," Mr Cardillo said.

The markets have been struggling to maintain momentum in the past few weeks amid changing dynamics of the US presidential elections and varying signals on interest rate hikes.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has been alternating between losses and gains for the past seven days.

Also weighing on investor sentiment was a report that showed US industrial production barely rose in September due to a decline in utilities production.

The S&P 500 index showed no new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded seven new highs and 29 new lows.