By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A sharp drop in Walmart shares weighed heavily on the Dow and the S&P 500 on Tuesday to put a six-session winning streak in jeopardy, but gains in Amazon and technology stocks helped lift the Nasdaq.
Walmart <WMT.N>, the world's biggest brick-and-mortar retailer, reported a lower-than-expected profit and posted a sharp drop in online sales growth during the holiday period. Its shares slumped 9.6 percent, and were on pace for their biggest percentage fall since October 2015.
The report pulled other grocery retailers lower, with Target <TGT.N>, off 2.8 percent and Kroger <KR.N> down 4.6 percent. The S&P consumer staples <.SPLRCS> index dropped 2.08 percent and is down nearly 5 percent for the year.
"Walmart and the staples in general are really dragging us down," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago.
"The wound was a little self-inflicted in that they said they were going to draw down a little bit this quarter because they needed to do some technology."
In contrast, shares of online retailer Amazon <AMZN.O> climbed 1.6 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 198.79 points, or 0.79 percent, to 25,020.59, and the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 9.63 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,722.59, while the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> added 17.68 points, or 0.24 percent, to 7,257.15.
The S&P 500 notched its biggest weekly percentage gain in five years last week, as equities quickly bounced from a sharp drop off its Jan. 26 high and eased concerns a longer selloff was at hand.
The selloff was sparked after economic data raised worries the economy may overheat, causing a quick spike in bond yields and concern the Federal Reserve may become more aggressive in raising U.S. interest rates.
While still near four-year highs, yields have leveled off somewhat of late, as benchmark 10-year Treasury notes <US10YT=RR> last fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.895 percent, from 2.877 percent late on Friday.
The S&P technology index <.SPLRCT> gained 0.6 as the best performing of the 11 major S&P sectors, buoyed by a gain of more than 2 percent in the semiconductor sector <.SOX>.
Qualcomm <QCOM.O> fell 1.8 percent after the chipmaker raised its offer to buy NXP Semiconductors NV <NXPI.O> to $127.50 per share from $110. NXP shares jumped 6.05 percent.
"What is going on with Qualcomm and their bid for NXP is certainly making all the semiconductors look more attractive," said Kinahan.
Home Depot <HD.N> advanced 0.34 percent after the largest U.S. home improvement chain's quarterly profit beat market estimates in an improving housing market.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.56-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
(This story corrects paragraph 3 to "report" from "reported".)
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by James Dalgleish)