Stocks slip on Wall Street despite boost for technology companies

US stocks finished mostly lower in another choppy day of trading after a midday rally faded.

Industrial and technology companies rose, but smaller companies and chemical makers skidded.

Without any major economic reports or further development on issues like tariffs, stocks drifted up and down.

The market was coming off two days of losses, and while stocks briefly moved higher in the middle of the day, they could not sustain any momentum.

Agribusiness company Monsanto fell after Bloomberg News reported that US authorities have concerns about its sale to Bayer and might order Bayer to sell more assets.

Toymakers Hasbro and Mattel sagged as Toys R Us moved toward shutting its US stores.

Industrial companies bounced back after three days of declines that stemmed from worries about trade tensions.

After big gains earlier this month, smaller, more US-focused companies continued to slip.

Drugstores and packaged food companies also declined.

Technology companies finished with small gains, however.

Tech stocks did far better than the rest of the stock market in 2017, and they are the only part of the S&P 500 that has fully recovered from last month's sell-off, and Lindsey Bell, an investment strategist at CFRA Research, thinks there is a good chance the industry will outpace the broader market again this year.

"Our economy in general and our world in general is becoming more connected digitally and this is an area that's going to continue to thrive as time goes on," Ms Bell said.

She added that chipmakers and service companies like Alphabet and Facebook should continue to do well.

The S&P 500 fell 2.15 points, or 0.1%, to 2,747.33. It climbed as much as 13 points earlier but wound up with its fourth consecutive loss.

The Dow Jones industrial average added 115.54 points, or 0.5%, to 24,873.66. The Nasdaq composite lost 15.07 points, or 0.2%, to 7,481.74.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slid 7.69 points, or 0.5%, to 1,576.62.

Most the companies listed on the New York Stock Exchange traded lower.