By Sinead Carew


NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 closed lower and the Dow ended a seven-day rally on Wednesday as financial stocks fell but gains in technology stocks helped Nasdaq end the day higher.


U.S. stocks had been on a tear since the real estate developer's surprise victory in the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election. The Dow had closed higher for the previous seven sessions, with the last four at record levels.


The S&P financial sector ended its own seven-day rally with a 1.4 percent decline. Both the Dow and S&P pared losses in choppy afternoon trading.


"I think you've a lot of people who were caught sleeping last week and are trying to use the weakness to put their money to work," said Paul Hickey, Co-founder, Bespoke Investment Group, LLC, a research firm in Harrison, New York. "People with money on the sidelines are looking for a place to put it. They're looking for names that haven't rallied as much and ones that have rallied are taking a bit of a breather."

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 54.92 points, or 0.29 percent, to 18,868.14, the S&P 500 lost 3.45 points, or 0.16 percent, to 2,176.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 18.96 points, or 0.36 percent, to 5,294.58.

Investors were still looking for clarity on how much of Trump's campaign promises will become a reality, while preparing for higher interest rates and inflation.

Trump's proposals to cut taxes and raise infrastructure spending are seen boosting economic activity and inflation, while any dismantling of foreign trade agreements or imposition of import tariffs would be expected to hurt the U.S. economy.

"You've got a little bit of a hangover from the Trump rally today," said Steven Chiavarone, a New York-based associate portfolio manager at Federated Investors Global Allocation Fund. "The market priced in pretty quickly a very rosy scenario but now you're seeing a little doubt ... as he puts together his team."

While S&P financial stocks slipped on Wednesday they were still 9.3 percent above their pre-election levels as investors are betting on higher interest rates and lighter regulation helping that sector. JPMorgan's 2.5 percent drop to $77.40 weighed the most on the sector.

Traders are pricing in an 81 percent chance that the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. rates in December, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The S&P technology index, which fell as much as 3.6 percent in the days after the election, ended up 0.92 percent, helped most by Apple and Microsoft.

U.S. technology companies, most of which make their products overseas, could bear some of the brunt of any new trade restrictions.

Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors ended lower, with the financial index leading the decliners. The energy sector was the second weakest with a 0.9 percent slip driven by a drop in oil prices.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.11-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.11-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 191 new highs and 33 new lows.

About 7.3 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges compared with the 7.9 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)