* Indexes down: Dow 0.77 pct, S&P 0.76 pct, Nasdaq 0.97 pct (Updates to midday)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , April 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Monday,putting the S&P 500 on track for its biggest three-day drop intwo months, as investors rotated into defensive names to protectagainst further declines.
Momentum shares - stocks in fast-growing industries whichhad seen their stock prices rocket higher in recent weeks -managed to stabilize after their decline helped fuel a sell-offon Friday. But selling pressure migrated to other sectors, withonly defensives such as utilities and consumer staples in positive territory among the 10 major S&P sectors.
"We are definitely seeing a little more downside, acontinuation from the nasty reversal on Friday," said RyanDetrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's InvestmentResearch in Cincinnati, Ohio.
"The big concern is the overall underlying weakness in somany different stocks. The picture isn't nearly as pretty whenyou look under the hood and you see various sectors have clearlybroken down and now it's starting to pull down on the wholeentire stock market."
Pfizer Inc, which was down 3 percent to $31.17,added pressure to the Dow and S&P 500. The company'sexperimental breast cancer drug in a clinical trial nearlydoubled the amount of time patients lived without their diseasegetting worse, but overall survival was not yet shown to bestatistically significant, researchers said.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 126.35points, or 0.77 percent, at 16,286.36. The Standard & Poor's 500Index was down 14.26 points, or 0.76 percent, at1,850.83. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 39.89points, or 0.97 percent, at 4,087.83.
S&P 500 companies' first-quarter earnings are projected tohave increased just 1.2 percent from a year ago, Thomson Reuters (Frankfurt: TOC.F - news) data showed. The forecast is down sharply from the start of theyear, when growth was estimated at 6.5 percent.
A lackluster first-quarter earnings season hurt by a harshwinter could spark a pullback, some analysts said, withinvestors more optimistic for the second quarter.
Specialty pharmaceuticals company Mallinckrodt Plc agreed to buy drugmaker Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc (NasdaqGS: QCOR - news) for about $5.6 billion to gain access to its multiple sclerosisdrug, Acthar Gel. Questcor shares climbed 13.5 percent to $77.05while Mallinckrodt dropped 9.4 percent to $56.65.
Energen Corp (NYSE: EGN - news) said it would sell its natural gasutility Alabama Gas Corp (Alagasco) to Laclede Group Inc for $1.28 billion in cash to focus on oil and gas explorationand production. Energen shed 0.5 percent to $81.13 and Lacledelost 1.2 percent to $45.66.
MannKind Corp slumped 10 percent to $6.18. Thecompany said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration extended thereview date of its inhaled insulin treatment by three months. (Editing by Nick Zieminski and Bernadette Baum)
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