US STOCKS-Wall Street edges lower after four days of gains

Last Updated: Wed, May 08, 2013 14:00 hrs

* Dow and S&P 500 both come off record closing highs

* Disney profit beats expectations, Whole Foods ups outlook

* Analysts see value in sectors tied to economic growth

* Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq all down 0.2 pct in early trading

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were modestly lower on Wednesday as investors locked in profits after four days of gains which took equity indexes to fresh highs a day earlier.

The S&P has climbed 2.7 percent over the past four sessions, and is up about 14 percent this year. Both the S&P and the Dow closed at new highs on Tuesday, with the Dow ending above 15,000 for the first time ever.

While the market continues to trend upward, with analysts citing the attractive valuation of equities relative to other assets, the magnitude and speed of the rally has spurred expectations of a pullback.

"We've seen an amazing rally, and this is just a brief cooling off period after an historic day," said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma. "While I expect a modest pullback over the next couple of months, that will be followed by even more gains."

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 31.26 points, or 0.21 percent, at 15,024.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.55 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,623.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 5.39 points, or 0.16 percent, at 3,391.24.

Wall Street hasn't yet undergone a sustained decline this year as investors have bought on market declines. Robust corporate results and accommodative monetary policies by the Federal Reserve have buoyed the market's gains, which have recently been led by cyclical sectors tied to the pace of economic growth.

"We have a lot of interest in energy and material names at these levels," said Dollarhide. "Both seem like big growth areas that are undervalued."

Dow component Walt Disney Co reported earnings late Tuesday that beat expectations and revenue that was up 10 percent, while Whole Foods Market Inc reported a rebound in same-store sales and raised its full-year profit view.

Shares of Disney dipped 1 percent to $65.42 while Whole Foods advanced 8.4 percent to $100.61.

J.C. Penney Co Inc reported another quarter of steep sales declines, though investors were cheered that the troubled department store posted cash levels that implied it had gone through less money than feared. The stock rose 4.2 percent to $16.80 but remains down 13 percent on the year.

AOL Inc fell 7.6 percent to $33.27 after reporting earnings that missed expectations, though revenue rose more than anticipated.

Earnings have largely been better than expected this quarter, with about 68.5 percent of S&P 500 companies surpassing estimates so far. At the same time, revenues have been disappointing.

European shares rose, with mining stocks among the day's strongest as strong Chinese trade data indicated a better outlook for one of the world's largest economies.

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