Dow, S&P 500 fall, while Nasdaq up back near 5,000

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Dow and S&P 500 on Thursday gave back some of their gains from the prior session, while the Nasdaq edged up closer to 5,000.

The closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 117.16 points (0.65 per cent) to 17,959.03, while the broad-based S&P 500 shed 10.23 (0.49 per cent) to 2,089.27.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 9.55 (0.19 per cent) to 4,992.38, lifting it closer to the psychologically important 5,000 level for only the second time in 15 years.

Greg Peterson, managing director at Ballentine Partners, said Thursday's trade was "in line with a normal volatile market" after Wednesday's surge prompted by a dovish statement from the US Federal Reserve.

"Yesterday was the news and reaction day, today is the quiet day," he said.

Oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron were among the biggest losers in the Dow, falling 1.9 percent and 1.8 percent respectively on a down day for crude prices.

Airlines rose with the pullback in oil prices, with Delta Air Lines advancing 3.2 per cent and United Continental picking up 2.9 per cent.

Offshore driller Transocean dropped 7.2 per cent after announcing it would scrap four rigs, resulting in a charge of US$300-US$325 million (S$417 million to S$450 million).

The move comes as low oil prices depress oilfield investment.

Bank of America dropped 2.3 per cent on news that the Securities and Exchange Commission required it to hold a shareholder vote on potentially spinning off its Merrill Lynch investment bank business. Other banks also declined, including Citigroup (minus 2.5 per cent) and Wells Fargo (minus 1.2 per cent).

Facebook was among the big winners in the Nasdaq, advancing 2.3 per cent. Biotech stocks were also strong, including Biogen (+1.3 per cent) and Celgene (+2.2 per cent).

Apple, in its first day in the blue-chip index, lost 0.8 per cent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 1.97 per cent from 1.92 per cent Wednesday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.53 per cent from 2.51 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.